Czech billionaire Kellner may buy Chelsea football club from Russian oligarch Abramovich

Czech billionaire Kellner may buy Chelsea football club from Russian oligarch Abramovich
Reclusive Petr Kellner is Czech's richest man and owner of the PPF investment fund
By bne IntelliNews October 26, 2018

The richest man in Czechia Petr Kellner and owner of investment group PPF, is reportedly in talks with top Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich to possibly buy English premier football club Chelsea, Czech news server Tyden.cz reported on Thursday October 25. According to another news server Lidovky.cz (LN), the Czech billionaire is considering to buy a 50% share.

"According to London's sources of Tyden.cz, the first round of negotiations should happen in the up-coming days," the news service writes. "So far, ideas on price have not been agreed," said LN´s anonymous source from the banking sector. "It is said that [Abramovich] would sell for three [billion pounds], and the other one would buy for one [billion pounds]."

As bne IntelliNews reported earlier Abramovich is asking for £3bn for his UK Premier League football club Chelsea, having already declined a $2.3bn bid earlier this year. Unnamed associates of Russian oligarch told Bloomberg that "he won’t do it happily" as the club has for years been his obsession, as well as a way of buying his way into high English society.

Abramovich bought the club in 2013 for £140mn, which was promptly nicknamed “Chelski” by the British tabloids. The oligarch who effectively ran Russia at the end of the 1990s together with former president Boris Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Yumasheva (nee Dyachenko) as a member of the so-called “Family” clique and was known as the “Kremlin’s cashier.” Since taking over Abramovich has invested more than £1.1bn into the club, taking it to the top of the Premier League five times and a victory at the UEFA Champions League. Other reports estimate Abramovich’s investment into the club at GBP8.5bn.

The oligarch's UK investor visa is currently under scrutiny amid worsened UK-Russia relations. In response Abramovich sought and gained an Israeli passport.

According to Tyden, Abramovich has put Chelsea on the block due to pressure following the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal. All Russians in the UK have become “Putin's people” and Abramovich is especially close to Russian president Vladimir Putin, as he is one of the clique that is believed to have hand picked Putin for his current job as successor to Yeltsin in the presidential elections in 2000. Abramovich was granted a renew of his “golden” investment visa to the UK earlier this year and applied for and received an Israeli passport that allows him a maximum of 60 days at a time in the UK.

The club is valued at GBP3.9bn, according to English experts, LN reports. Kellner's assets are worth a triple of this value according to Forbes magazine.

The reclusive Kellner is also reportedly a huge fan of Chelsea and owns one of the most expensive skyboxes in London's Stamford Bridge stadium. He is also a very good friend of Abramovich. Kellner’s PPF has extensive business interests in Russia in banking, insurance, agriculture and industry, that brings him into regular contact with Russian oligarchs.

Abramovich is not currently under US sanctions but his name has been mentioned as a possible addition to the list of sanctioned oligarchs as part of  “crushing” sanctions that could be imposed on Russia this autumn.

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