BCFC: American Investor Revealed?

Late on Thursday night, Bloomberg reported that American hedge fund manager Tom Wagner is nearing a deal to buy a stake in Birmingham City. This led to a huge amount of talk online among Blues fans about who Wagner is and what this means in regard to the Often Partisan Limited bid.

Pre Match St Andrews

The report can be read on Bloomberg here or at Yahoo Finance here.

Is this a new investor?

The biggest question I’ve received in the multitude of tags on social media is with regards to Often Partisan Limited.

Before this news came out, we were working under the assumption OPL are the party in talks with Birmingham Sports Holdings. However, the announcement made to the HKSE on April 12 had no names which could mean that this may be a competing investor.

While I do not know for certain, I’m reasonably sure that Wagner is an investor in the OPL bid.

My reasoning for this is that in the period since the exclusivity announcement, Jeremy Dale and others have been seen by a few of my contacts in the back offices at St Andrew’s. Dale was also in attendance at the Millwall game on Tuesday.

This confirms to me that OPL are still very much involved, which means that if this report is correct Wagner is one of the backers.

I have reached out to OPL for confirmation but they have declined to comment.

Who is Tom Wagner?

According to this website, Tom Wagner founded Knighthead Capital Management in 2008 after being involved in high yield and distressed businesses for many years including as a managing director at Goldman Sachs.

The Knighthead Capital Management website gives little away but confirms their interest in distressed businesses.

This business profile is not unlike the original profile of Paul Suen Cho Hung and is unsurprising bearing in mind the state of Birmingham City financially.

He is named as a director of Shelby Companies Limited, a company founded on April 12 (the same day as the announcement) and headquartered at the offices of international law firm Squire Patton Boggs in Birmingham.

Shelby Companies Limited is owned by Knighthead Annuity and Life Assurance Company, which has offices in the same 280 Park Lane building as Knighthead Capital Management as well as the Cayman Islands.

How rich is Tom Wagner / Knighthead Capital Management?

According to the Bloomberg article, Knighthead oversees about $9Bn; however before people get excited this doesn’t mean they have that much in the bank.

I’m of the opinion that we need to be very careful about judging how rich new owners are; primarily because P&S rules will prevent an immediate massive influx of cash.

However, I am given hope by the fact that these people manage a large amount of money as it would mean that they probably know what they’re doing.

This isn’t their first sports investment either; last year they invested in a pickleball team alongside American Football star Tom Brady and tennis player Kim Clijsters.

This hints at an investor with connections if nothing else.

While I have done my best to answer questions in this article, I want to stress there still is a lot we do not know about this deal and as such while optimism is a good thing we need to be cautious with it.

I suspected we might start to see investor names come out in this period before the final Definitive Agreements were signed but I have to admit, I’m still of the opinion that I don’t want to know too much for fear of breaking this deal.

However, is it me or is that light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter?