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Irish Hammer 10:35 Fri Aug 6
Article on potential takeover bid.
West Ham takeover bid: the legal dispute surrounding PAI Capital

The consortium trying to buy West Ham is funded by an Azerbaijani millionaire currently embroiled in a “bitter legal dispute” over allegations of corruption in the former Soviet republic.

PAI Capital has made a bid of £400 million for the Premier League side but West Ham chairman and majority shareholder David Sullivan dismissed the offer, describing it as “derisory”, and claimed the London-based group “never produced any proof of funds”.

But in a statement issued to The Athletic this week, a spokesperson for PAI Capital said: “PAI and our legal counsel did submit a proof of funds to West Ham’s owners, and funds for the purchase are directly accessible, subject to a commercial agreement being reached with the current owners.”

This follows an earlier statement from PAI Capital partner and former QPR chief executive Phillip Beard, who said the £400 million offer was “in fact the figure that David Sullivan had initially asked for”.

The Athletic, however, understands that Sullivan and his fellow shareholders at West Ham, long-term business partner David Gold and American investor Albert “Tripp” Smith, are not convinced PAI Capital actually have the money.

This is because PAI Capital’s founder is Nasib Piriyev, the son of Nizami Piriyev, a businessman who was arrested by the Azerbaijani authorities in May 2015. The Azerbaijan government also issued an Interpol arrest notice for Nasib Piriyev, who has been based in London for several years.

priyev west ham
Nasib Piriyev with Maria Ivanova at the Roskino Pavilion opening during the Annual Cannes Film Festival in 2014 (Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
The Piriyevs claim these actions were politically motivated and deny all wrongdoing. But the legal battle is far from over.

“Those bogus allegations against my family were part of the government-sponsored corporate raid of our assets in the country,” Nasib Piriyev told The Athletic.

“We are in the middle of a bitter legal dispute with the state-owned entities and it involves significantly valued industrial assets, so I really cannot tell you much about this now.”

When asked if this dispute would cause issues with the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, Nasib Piriyev said: “We are well prepared for those questions — our legal counsel and industry consultants have prepared our documents and are sure we pass the fit and proper test with flying colours.”

Neither he nor PAI Capital were able to answer if they are free to travel to Azerbaijan or do business there.

The family’s main business is PNN Group, the company Nizami Piriyev set up in 1993 after he had made his name as an executive at Russian energy giant Gazprom. According to its website, PNN has businesses across the former Soviet Union and Afghanistan, with interests in the energy, finance, food, luxury and media sectors.

PAI Capital was set up in London earlier this year and its website lists three relatively modest investments — in China, Nigeria and Switzerland — that were made by its parent company PAI International. PAI Capital assured The Athletic it has “several more investments in the project pipeline”.

One of PAI Capital’s partners is London-based lawyer Chris Cleverly, the cousin of government minister and former Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly. Chris Cleverly, a former dancer, is an investor in a company that owns cannabis plantations in Sierra Leone and has a licence to develop cannabis-based medicines.

The PAI Capital spokesperson confirmed Cleverly has invested in the cannabis sector “in his capacity as a partner of PAI Capital”.

Nasib Piriyev, a 40-year-old entrepreneur, who went to private school in Oxford and the American International University in London, is a co-founder and partner of both PAI Capital and PAI International but British banker Paul Mills is listed at Companies House as the person with significant control. The PAI Capital spokesperson said Mills is “an advisor and confidant of the Piriyevs and holds various family assets in trust”.

The Piriyevs have attracted British media interest before, most notably when they flew former British prime minister Tony Blair to Azerbaijan in 2009 to open a new methanol plant, while Nasib Piriyev has sponsored several polo events, including one that saw Prince Harry and Prince William compete against each other in 2014.

beard qpr
Beard in his QPR days with Tony Fernandes (Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
On Thursday afternoon PAI Capital released a “a formal announcement about the Olympic Park and West Ham project” that responded to Sullivan’s comments in more detail.

The statement read: “PAI Capital can confirm that we have reached the core principles of agreement with LLDC (London Legacy Development Corporation) regarding a long-term lease over the London Stadium that would see PAI taking full control of the Stadium. This would be on condition of PAI successfully concluding a deal for majority control with the current owners of WHU.”

The announcement detailed PAI Capital’s plans for the club, its London Stadium home and its location in the park that hosted the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The Athletic understands that the stadium, which West Ham lease on very attractive terms, and the park are central to PAI Capital’s strategy for the club. In fact, Sullivan suggested the group has “zero interest in the football side and saw it as a property move”.

PAI Capital’s Beard has made no secret of the fact he believes West Ham and the stadium’s ultimate owners, LLDC, are failing to realise the full potential of the 66,000-capacity venue and 560-acre park in which it sits. The statement released on Thursday claimed this was due to “divergent interests”.

Since 2012, thousands of apartments have been built at the site and most of the sporting venues left after the Games, such as the swimming pool and velodrome, have been well used. There is also a huge shopping mall on the edge of the park in Stratford. But plans to turn the site into a new cultural and entertainment quarter for London remain largely unfulfilled.

Beard was a commercial director for London’s bid for the Games and then became chief executive of the O2 Arena, which was formerly known as the Millennium Dome. That building, and the surrounding area on the Greenwich Peninsula in southeast London, was struggling until it was bought by US entertainment giant AEG and turned into one of Europe’s best multi-purpose indoor venues.

It is a transformation he, and the Piriyevs, want to replicate at the Olympic Park.

“Our vision is for the Club’s interests and activities to be integrated with those of the entire Park – friends and families coming to watch men’s, women’s or Academy matches should be able to enjoy everything the area has to offer instead of being shuffled from station to seat and back again,” the statement continued.

PAI Capital’s announcement revealed that it had received backing from former West Ham defenders Rio and Anton Ferdinand, both of whom broke through at the club.

“We love this Club with a passion, both Anton and I are really happy that PAI want to come in and help improve the experience for fans, and I’m delighted they have asked us to play a big part in the Club if their bid succeeds,” Rio Ferdinand said.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Mex Martillo 9:33 Sat Aug 7
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
I feel, better the crooks you know.
I like the sound of the plans for the stadium though. It is being shuffled from station to seat and back again that kills me, a few pubs to dive into would be nice.

Westham67 7:42 Sat Aug 7
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
PIA are negotiating with LLDC about taking control of the stadium if they buy West Ham. I would not worry about any corruption with Soviet union that is 30 years ago and the Chelsea owner is no angel

Manuel 6:16 Sat Aug 7
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
I wouldn't even waste my time the time to read it, a load of fucking hot air. I hope all this nonsense doesn't impact the start of our season, new signings or not.

Texas Iron 6:05 Sat Aug 7
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Worse than current owners…

No real money to move to next level…

They smell like rotted fish…



Capitol Man 5:29 Sat Aug 7
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Ok, this is bs from the start - there is no way the Lldc would be able to negotiate my sort of deal until they actually owned the club. West Ham, currently owned by g&s own the lease to the ground - there would be no negotiations with anyone but them.

chelmsfordhammer 7:21 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
no zoom is for people that aren't scared of getting bullied like poor old vexed.

Vexed 7:18 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Zoom is for low rent shit jobbers. People from Chelmsford use it a lot I suspect.

chelmsfordhammer 7:14 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
zoom call them.

Vexed 7:08 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.

On The Ball 7:06 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
I'm guessing that Interpol weren't too interested in the arrest warrant? Or it's been dismissed in some way? He's not exactly in hiding.

Alfs 6:37 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Being owned by a wealthy gangster does have a certain irony about it.

Mike Oxsaw 2:05 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Surprised they didn't also mention they are in talks with Messi to bring him in as part of the deal.

Be nice if we could all ignore this whole thing until something concrete appears, but, well, this is WHO and people HAVE to have their say.

Fifth Column 1:43 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Owned by an Azerbaijani geezer who may well get locked up and have all his assets taken in the near future. No thanks.

Fo the Communist 1:30 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
As others have said, a loaded article for sure. All part of the jigsaw though.

scott_d 1:30 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
I''m just waiting for them to announce that the deal includes Kia Joorabchian as the Director of Football.

Vexed 1:25 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Sounds like a choice between a pile of shit or a bucket of diarrhoea to me.

Thanks Irish 1:02 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.

swindon hammer 12:50 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
Yep, this article has just given me even more clarification that this consortium wouldn’t be a good thing for the club.

Lato 11:42 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
The plot thickens

Nagel 11:41 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
ioc, his cannabis business is completely legit here as well, seeing as it's only for medicinal use. Funny how they mention that he used to be a dancer as well, which is even more damning!

Cheers again Irish.

master 11:36 Fri Aug 6
Re: Article on potential takeover bid.
We don't need a millionaire. Need someone with far more than that.

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