Indian businessman set to take over Santander

Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed is set to take over Spanish

club Racing Santander after a deal was agreed Friday.

Santander confirmed a statement released by Ali Syed earlier

indicating that the investment company he founded – Western Gulf

Advisory – had received the approval of Spain’s Sports Ministry to

take over ownership of the club.

Santander said Ali Syed was now finalizing the deal with the

Cantabrian government, which has a major stake in the north coast

club.

”I am excited and proud to be the new owner of Real Racing Club

de Santander,” Ali Syed said. ”I look forward to an active and

long-term commitment to this great club, and will invest all my

knowledge and financial strength to elevate the club to the highest

level of success in Spain and Europe.”

Ali Syed said the acquisition is part of long-term strategy plan

for Western Gulf Advisory, the investment firm he founded.

”The conclusion of the sale of shares will guarantee the

institutional and economic stability of Racing,” Santander said in

a statement.

Santander newspaper El Diario Montanes reported that Ali Syed

will control just over 80 percent of the club’s shares and was

negotiating how much of its existing debt he will assume.

”If he brings the money we’ll go out and dance in the streets

because right now Racing is bankrupt,” Cantabria government

president Miguel Angel Revilla told COPE radio. ”(Santander)

wouldn’t even make it to the summer in the hands of those who have

it now.”

Ali Syed’s statement added that Credit Suisse performed ”an

intense due diligence process that analyzed and approved Syed’s

strong financial and intellectual capabilities to take the club

forward.”

Ali Syed lost out to poultry giant Venky for Blackburn, and had

to cooperate with British investigators during negotiations after

reports emerged his company was shut down by fiscal regulators.

The Spanish league has now had two foreign takeovers in seven

months, after Qatari sheik Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani became the

new owner of struggling Malaga in June.

Santander is 98 years old but has struggled recently after

failing to attract significant sponsorship. From 43 seasons in the

top flight, the club has never won a major trophy and only just

avoided relegation last season. The team also sold its brightest

prospect, Sergio Canales, to Real Madrid in the last offseason for

a reported ?5 million ($6.8 million).

Halfway through the current season, the team is in 14th place,

four points above the drop zone.