Queens Park Rangers expected to announce takeover by Tony Fernandes

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Queens Park Rangers expected to announce takeover by Tony Fernandes

? AirAsia owner set to buy 66% stake

? Announcement expected on Thursday

Queens Park Rangers are expected to announce the takeover of the club by the Malaysian airline entrepreneur Tony Fernandes at a press conference at Loftus Road on Thursday. Fernandes, the co-owner and chief executive of the low-cost airline AirAsia, has been in London in the past few days, negotiating to buy the 66% stake in QPR that is currently owned by the Formula One rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone. The club would not confirm on Wednesday night that the press conference has been called to unveil Fernandes as the new majority owner, but sources close to the deal said it was "nearly there".

Fernandes, who has twice tried to buy into West Ham, the club he supports, turned to QPR after a bid to invest at Upton Park was rejected in June by the West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. Ecclestone, with his Formula One friend Flavio Briatore, has become an unpopular figure with QPR fans, who are particularly angry at swingeing ticket-price increases that were imposed after the club won promotion to the Premier League.

Ecclestone has talked publicly of the club being worth ?100m, but sources have suggested Fernandes will not agree with that valuation at a club where investment is required if Neil Warnock's team are to have a reasonable chance of staying up.

The Malaysian is expected to take over in partnership with Amit Bhatia, the son-in-law of the Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who has been discussing buying 10% from Ecclestone. That would increase the Mittal stake to 43%, with Fernandes holding 56%. Bhatia, who stepped down as chairman in May, after the ticket-price increases were announced and his own takeover offer was rebuffed by Ecclestone, is said to have struck up a good rapport with Fernandes and to be keen to be involved.

Source: The Guardian

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