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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 1, 2006

Georgian tycoon in Hammers takeover bid

Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili has revealed he is considering investing in a potential bid for West Ham.

The Hammers yesterday confirmed to the stock exchange they have been involved in 'exploratory discussions' with regard to a possible takeover of the club.

Kia Joorabchian, the Iranian-born businessman who orchestrated the transfer of Argentina internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to West Ham, has been strongly linked with the bid.

And a spokesman for Patarkatsishvili revealed last night: 'It is true that Kia Joorabchian is my friend and we have done business together in the past.

'At this time I am not involved in any possible bid for West Ham but I am thinking about it and cannot exclude such a possibility in the future.'

Patarkatsishvili, Georgia's largest private investor and chairman of the Georgian Business Federation, this week sold the Russian newspaper Kommersant for around US 200million and recently secured News International as an investor in his Georgian media company Imedi.

But he is not welcome in Russia because of his close friendship with exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a rival of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Berezovsky was reported to be providing the financial weight behind a proposed takeover bid - but he confirmed this evening he has no plans to invest in West Ham.

His associates issued a statement which read: 'Mr Berezovsky wishes to make it clear that he has absolutely no involvement financial or otherwise in any possible bid for West Ham.'

Patarkatsishvili, Berezovsky and particularly Abramovich have all been rumoured to be investors in the Media Sports Investment consortium that was headed up by Joorabchian until June this year.

MSI took control of Brazilian side Corinthians in 2004 and furnished the club with record signings like Tevez and Mascherano.

Reports at the time had stated Abramovich owned 15% of MSI, while Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili have subsequently been linked with the deal.

But Joorabchian has insisted to friends the Corinthians deal was actually financed by MSI's New York investors. Sources close to Joorabchian told PA Sport the company has no Russian investors.

'He has never done business with Roman Abramovich or Boris Berezovsky,' said the source.

'He has never entered into a partnership with them.'

The Corinthians deal arose after a chance meeting with Pele's agent, who recommended Brazilian football as being ripe for investment.

MSI struck a 10-year-deal with Corinthians and invested £50million in return for 51% of the profits.

They shook the club from the doldrums, won the Brazilian title and Corinthians struck record sponsorship deals with Samsung and Nike.

Last year, MSI investigated the possibility of buying West Ham, only to shelve the plans after failing to reach an agreement on the club's value.

Joorabchian has since resigned from MSI but he retained an investment in Tevez and Mascherano.

That connection fuelled speculation that Joorabchian is the individual to have held 'exploratory talks' with West Ham over a possible takeover.