Broughton Gallops Ahead With Racing Post Bid
Sir Martin Broughton, the former British Horseracing Board (BHB) chairman, is preparing a secret bid to take over the Racing Post, the sport's bible.
Sky News can reveal that Sir Martin's private equity vehicle, Sports Investment Partners, is planning to make a multimillion pound offer for the newspaper that will pit him against the title's current owners.
The Racing Post is being sold by liquidators acting on behalf of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), a shell set up by the Irish government to manage the remaining assets of Anglo Irish Bank, the lender which was nationalised in 2009.
KPMG, which is overseeing the sale, has asked for bids by the end of this week, according to sources in Dublin.
In addition to Sir Martin's SIP, FL Partners, the Racing Post's existing owner, is expected to submit a bid. The likely price for a winning bid is unclear.
The newspaper, which launched in 1986 as a rival to the 127 year-old Sporting Life, ended up in the hands of IBRC after FL found itself unable to service the roughly £150m of debt it took on to acquire the title in 2007.
FL, which recently sold the Sunseeker luxury yachts business, was set up by a group of Irish businessmen and has invested in companies which also include UTV, the broadcasting group.
As part of its takeover of the Racing Post, FL acquired a licence to use the Racing Post name, which is held in perpetuity by its founder, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, one of the world's most prominent racehorse owners.
Sources said that the Sheikh's consent would be required for any change of control of the title and added that he was likely to look favourably on a bid led by Sir Martin, a well-known figure in British racing.
Currently the deputy chairman of British Airways' parent company, Sir Martin chaired the BHB between 2004 and 2007, and led the sale of Liverpool Football Club to Fenway Sports Group in 2010.
SIP's interest in the Racing Post follows its closely-fought battle to buy the Tote from the Government in 2011, which ultimately led to the state-owned bookmaker's sale to Betfred.
Its bid is understood to be fully-financed, although the identity of its backers was unclear on Wednesday.
If a bid for the Racing Post does not meet an unspecified threshold, control of the asset will transfer to the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency, a source close to the liquidator said.
SIP was unavailable for comment.