World Bulletin / News Desk
A Middle Eastern consortium is poised to bid 1.5 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) for full ownership of Britain's Arsenal Football Club in the biggest-ever takeover of a soccer team, The Telegraph newspaper reported.
The bid is likely to be mounted in the next few weeks, seeking to buy out the current majority owner, U.S. sports investor Stan Kroenke, the British newspaper said.
The Middle Eastern investors do not want to reveal their identities yet but will be backed by funds from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the newspaper reported late on Saturday without naming its sources.
The consortium would make available transfer funds "to transform the club into a major force in European and world football", the newspaper quoted an unnamed source familiar with the plan as saying.
"The bid team regard Arsenal as one of the great clubs of European football but also one that is no longer punching its weight and is in danger of falling behind," it said.
The newspaper added that the consortium would pledge to reduce ticket prices at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, and would aim to recreate there some of the atmosphere of Highbury, Arsenal's historic former stadium.
The takeover would raise questions over the future of Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, although the consortium values his football knowledge and want him to remain at the club, The Telegraph said.
An acquisition would add to a string of investments in European soccer teams by Middle Eastern interests over the last several years.
Manchester City, the current English Premier League champions, were bought by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family in 2008, while Kuwait's al-Hasawi family bought twice European Cup winners Nottingham Forest in July last year. France's Paris St Germain and Spain's Malaga are owned by Qatari investors.
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Russia generated $356 billion from oil, gas exports last year, data shows.
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The deal includes hydropower and nuclear power plants in the South American country.
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Western officials have repeatedly warned Iranian counterparts over the past six months that more economic pain is a risk for an OPEC member whose oil exports have already shrunk to a fraction of what they could have been
The EU's employment commissioner said he has asked to meet with Microsoft to discuss the social impact of the layoffs.
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The financial aid would be used for rebuilding houses and public buildings, the rapid restoration of water and energy supplies and urgent assistance for those still without proper shelter.
Washington and Brussels say Moscow has been fanning separatist violence in eastern Ukraine and broadened their sanctions, sending Russian shares and the rouble currency down.