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May 19, 2014

Valencia hope for bright new era

New Valencia owner Peter Lim's arrival has been widely welcomed at the heavily indebted La Liga club, despite the deal still being contingent on reaching an agreement with its bankers.

Peter Lim has previously failed in attempts to buy Liverpool, Rangers and Atletico Madrid.
Peter Lim hopes to complete his Valencia takeover.

On Saturday, the 22-member board of the Valencia Foundation -- which, on paper, owns 70 percent of the club's shares -- voted unanimously to accept a 90 million euro bid from Singapore businessman Lim, who was previously linked with unsuccessful moves to buy Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna and AC Milan.

In an interview with the club's official website, Lim, 61, thanked those who had supported his bid for the club through recent months.

"I am very happy that the project has been chosen after such a rigorous selection process," he said. "The Valencia CF supporters can finally see an end to months of uncertainty. The unanimous support for my offer shows a firm commitment from the trustees involved in the process: Bankia, Valencia CF, the Valencia CF Foundation and the Valencian Institute of Finances.

"Through this process, the winning offer is that which has the best sporting, economic and social solutions. I am very happy that we have fit this criteria with the best offer and want to thank the Valencia CF fans and Valencia as a city for their strong support over these past months."

Lim's arrival has been widely welcomed by senior Valencia figures, with current club president Amadeo Salvo, coach Juan Antonio Pizzi and sporting director Francisco Rufete all reportedly set to keep their jobs under the new regime, even after a disappointing season in which the team failed to qualify for Europe for only the second time in 15 years.

Salvo told AS on Saturday that he had supported Lim's bid as it provided the most investment for the institution.

"I have nothing with Peter Lim. I would have chosen another offer if it had been better," he said. "This board will put itself at the disposition of Peter Lim and I will be president if many objectives are maintained and if a path is taken in which we believe. The investment by Peter Lim is higher than the other three offers together -- that is why we voted with raised hands and there were no doubts. This means we will now not have to sell players."

Lim will now reportedly help the club sell its current Mestalla ground and complete the stalled development of its half-finished "Nou Mestalla" elsewhere in the city. Local newspaper Super Deporte also claimed Lim is keen to spend 60 million euros on players in the summer, with Benfica trio Rodrigo, Ezequiel Garay and Andre Gomes among those apparently lined up to arrive.

An investment fund owned by Lim -- who works closely with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes -- bought the rights of both Rodrigo and Gomes last January.

Valencia's 12 million euro move last January for former Benfica defender Nicolas Otamendi -- who currently on loan at Atletico Mineiro due to administrative issues -- and planned six million euro signing of Argentine starlet Rodrigo de Paul from Racing are also widely reported to have been part of Lim's "project."

Salvo claimed no new players would be imposed on the club by its new owners.

"Whether they [Rodrigo and Gomes] are here in the project or not is a decision for the technical staff," he said. "But I could not tell you that. They are good players, and if they belong to Mr Lim, well, we want to bring good players here."

Although the foundation board has voted unanimously to accept Lim's offer, the club's future remains dependent on its lender Bankia also being in agreement. El Pais reports that Bankia could still opt for a rival bid -- from either US investment fund Cerberus, Chinese corporation Wanda Group and Russian investors Zolotaya Zvedza -- as Lim is said to be hoping the nationalised bank will accept a 100 million euro reduction on the 220 million euros currently owed by the club.

Should Lim and Bankia fail to reach an agreement over this debt, then the process -- which has already dragged on for months -- could be further protracted. Valencia have additional debts of 140 million euros to various other parties, according to the figures reported by El Pais.

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