Monday, July 23, 2007

Birmingham-themed restaurants planned for China

Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung, who recently become the major shareholder of Birmingham City, told AP he's holding off on taking over the English Premier League club outright. Yeung's company Grandtop International Holding Ltd completed a deal last week to buy 29.91 percent of Birmingham City shares. The shares were bought from club presidents David Sullivan, Ralph Gold and David Gold, managing director Karren Brady and Director Roger Bannister, all of whom still have stakes in the club.

Asked about his plans to buy out the other Birmingham shareholders, Yeung told at a press conference in Hong Kong, "I'm considering it. It's a matter of timing." Buying out the club completely and developing other related businesses will take about 700 million Hong Kong dollars (US$89.5 million), Yeung said. He declined to say whether his company will recruit new investors to finance its takeover of Birmingham, but said it is in talks with banks and funds.

Yeung also said he plans to promote the club in China by adding one player from Hong Kong and two from China, and by launching Birmingham-themed cafes and restaurants in Hong Kong, China and possibly elsewhere in Asia, as well as football training schools.

"We've started observing local players. We hope to have some new developments in three months," Yeung said. "We all know the English Premier League is very popular. I believe it will get even more popular in China. The market is bigger," he said.

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