Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris has saved Aston Villa by buying a controlling stake in the cash-strapped club ahead of an expected full takeover.
Embattled Villa chairman Dr Tony Xia has been firefighting since the club lost the play-off final to Fulham.Villa were facing possible administration amid losses of £5million a month after missing out on the Premier League.
Xia had been in talks with a group advised by former Portsmouth and Leicester owner Milan Mandaric.But Xia has opted to take a more lucrative deal to sell a 55% stake to Sawiris and Fortress Investment Group co-founder Wes Edens.
The Sawiris family’s estimated net worth is $36billion, while Nassef is ranked at No.251 in the world’s rich list.
Chinese businessman Xia will now become co-chairman and remain on the board after the investment, which has been approved by the EFL.
(Image: Birmingham Mail)
MirrorSport understands the investment is unlikely to affect plans to sell star player Jack Grealish to Premier League Tottenham with the clubs in talks.
But fresh funds should allow Villa to finally make signings of their own this summer after previously even having a block on free transfers.
Xia said: “I am extremely pleased to have formed a strategic partnership with Nassef and Wes.
“We have a common goal of delivering future success for Aston Villa and I look forward to working together to achieve this aim.
“To have come so close to achieving promotion last season was a humbling experience. In finding such strong partners as Nassef and Wes we’re gearing up to fight again and bring back the success that this club deserves and we all so want to provide it with.”
(Image: Getty Images North America)
Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens added: “As lifelong football fans, we are excited and privileged to have become part of this great Club. We believe that together we bring business and sports experience that will help strengthen the Club to ensure Aston Villa can return to its rightful place in the upper echelons of English football.
“Our goal is to bring sustainable success to the Club, building on its rich history while respecting its loyal fan base and unique culture. We understand that we are stewards of Aston Villa on behalf of the fans and we take that responsibility seriously.
“We look forward to working with Dr Tony to undertake a thorough assessment and evaluation of the Club in the coming weeks and our priority is to strengthen the squads and structures ahead of the upcoming season and beyond.”
Their arrival is the latest twist in a summer of turmoil and upheaval at Villa Park after Xia gambled on promotion when he bought out Randy Lerner in 2016.
Keith Wyness left his role as chief executive to sue the club for constructive dismissal and £300,000-a-year director of football Steve Round was forced out.
The Sawiris family are the most famous and richest family in Egypt – but what else do we know about them?
Well they have made an incredible fortune over the years, reports the Birmingham Mail.
(Image: Getty Images North America)
It’s understood that funds have been set aside to support this investment and take Aston Villa forward.
And although they have no experience of managing football clubs, the family does have a wealth of knowledge to call upon after decades of success in business.
From mobile phones in North Korea to rejuvenating a sleepy Swiss mountain village into a booming ski resort, these talented Arabs have been busy over the years.
Onsi Sawiris, the family patriarch, got it all started in the 1950s.
He started out in agriculture, before switching to construction and becoming one of the country’s largest contractors.
He’s now retired, though, and his three sons run the Orascom conglomerate which has operations in three major sectors – construction, telecommunications and tourism.
One of the three brothers, Nassef has a net wealth of $6.6bn and is the richest Egyptian in the world.
He has a stake in Adidas and cement giant Lafarge Holcim, but it’s his company OCI – one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producers – that brings in the real money.
Nassef is ranked at No.251 in the world’s rich list.
Brother Naguib Sawiris has a net worth of $2bn and is the more interesting of the three.
His company, Orascom Telecom has investments in media and technology enterprises in Egypt, Lebanon and Pakistan. It also owns Koryolink, North Korea’s 3G mobile telecom company.
(Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Back in 2015 he caught the world’s attention after offering to buy a Mediterranean island from Greece or Italy to house the world’s refugees.
He also has 4.7m Twitter followers and posts updates daily.
Samih Sawiris ($850m) is the tourism expert. He heads Orascom Development, which builds and operates resorts in Egypt, Montenegro, and Switzerland.
It was Samih who was instrumental in rejuvenating Andermatt, Switzerland, where he overcame local skepticism to build a new luxury resort.
The family are also members of the Coptic Christian minority.
They have no previous links to football.