Controlling interest in English football league franchise Aston Villa has changed hands. Deep pocket investors Wes Edens, and Nassef Sawiris have paid £30 million for 55% of the team. Aston Villa competes in the Championship league, the second tier of the English football league system. The principals began negotiating the deal during the World Cup tournament (Russia 2018).
Wes Edens is the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Board of the Fortress Investment Group. Sports team ownership is not new to Mr. Edens. He paid $500 million to purchase the Milwaukee Bucks, NBA franchise along with a partner. The team has already doubled in value.
Years ago, back in 1994, Wes Edens had expressed an interest in purchasing Miami’s MLS franchise from British football legend David Beckham. Nothing came of that deal. However, Mr. Eden’s love of the sport is what sustained his interest in one day owning a soccer team.
Control of Aston Villa is now in the hands of Mr. Edens and his partner in the deal, Nassef Sawiris. Both men are billionaires. Wes Edens made his fortune in the private equity business, while Mr. Sawiris is a member of the wealthiest family in Egypt (believed to be worth $36 billion).
Aston Villa had been owned and controlled by Tony Xia who purchased it two years prior for £76 million. Mr. Sawiris is now the executive chairman and Mr. Edens a Co-Chairman. Mr. Xia is the other Co-chairman.
Before the sale, Aston Villa was a cash-strapped team. The club sold these shares to improve their weak finances. Nassef and Edens acted swiftly to purchase control of their new team. One gets the sense that the price was right. Besides, the enthusiasm for the “Beautiful Game” was surely running high in the wake of the World Cup. Mr. Edens, who is a dedicated soccer fan, hasn’t missed attending a World Cup since 1998.