Local entrepreneurs spearheading bid to take over Newcastle United
The Loh cousins are co-founders of BN Group, which is at an advanced stage of talks to acquire the EPL club
A decade after Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim made an ambitious attempt to buy English Premier League (EPL) giants Liverpool, local entrepreneurs Terence Loh and Nelson Loh are now spearheading a bid to take over another English club, Newcastle United.
The cousins are co-founders of Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group - along with Ms Evangeline Shen - which owns more than 30 entities across 100 countries in major business fields such as finance, sports, healthcare, luxury goods, entertainment and robotics. The Paris-based company is worth an estimated US$12 billion (S$16.5 billion).
In a statement to the media, BN Group confirmed last Saturday that its co-founders "are at an advanced stage of negotiation" for the takeover, having already provided a letter of intent and proof of funds.
It added that they are "willing to massively contribute to the development of the club through their solid and international structure and a combined business/sport devoting mindset". The BN Group has also engaged Newcastle legend and former England captain Alan Shearer and former Magpies forward Michael Chopra to back their bid.
Citing "confidentiality given the highly sensitive nature of the transaction", a representative declined further comment when contacted by The Straits Times.
Previously investment bankers at JPMorgan, the Loh cousins are known to be keen sports fans, having sponsored local professional race driver Yuey Tan, the national Muay Thai team, and the St Michael's Soccer Association.
BN Group also owns Dorr Group Racing Team, who have raced in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup since 2012.
If the bid gets the green light, the Lohs will be the first Singaporeans to control an EPL club.
Mr Lim, who now owns Spanish La Liga side Valencia, saw his bid for Liverpool falling through in 2010, while Singaporean businessman Bill Ng aimed to buy Scottish Premier League side Rangers in 2012 but eventually withdrew his offer.
Founded in 1892, Newcastle are a strongly supported club who have won four top-flight league titles and six FA Cups. The Magpies, managed by Steve Bruce, finished 13th in the 2019-2020 season.
BN Group's interest provides Newcastle owner Mike Ashley with an alternative after a £300 million (S$538.2 million) bid funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund fell through.
Newcastle fan Terence Ong, 34, called the takeover bid by the Lohs "a potential breath of fresh air after 13 horrible years with Mike Ashley", citing the owner's concern about the bottom line and "lack of ambition".
"Although finances matter, football cannot be run like a business and I hope the new owners realise that and engage the fans better, considering that successful teams always manage to get fans on their side," said the Singaporean, a marketing manager.
"The nationality of the prospective owners doesn't really matter. As long as they can prove their credentials and show they have the best interest of the club at heart, it is something worth considering."