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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 8, 2006

Billionaire confirms support for Icelandic Hammers bid

A billionaire financier has confirmed he will provide the major backing for a bid by an Icelandic consortium to take over West Ham.

Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, chairman of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki, is supporting UEFA executive committee member Eggert Magnusson's bid for the club.

The takeover attempt began in earnest today when Magnusson's financial advisors started inspecting the club's accounts.

Magnusson has been given permission to conduct the process of full due diligence and has instructed his team to move as quickly as possible with a view to making a formal offer some time next week.

A statement from the consortium confirmed Gudmundsson's involvement.

The statement said: 'The Icelandic investor Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has confirmed that he is the main financial backer supporting the bid of Eggert Magnusson for West Ham United. Mr Gudmundsson and Mr Magnusson have been friends for many years and share a passion for English football.

'Mr Gudmundsson is a wealthy Icelandic businessman with interests in companies with international operations in the field of finance, transportation, real estate and publications.

'Since Mr Gudmundsson became chairman of Landsbanki in 2003, the bank has taken a lead in sponsoring sport in Iceland, particularly in football with an emphasis on the development of young players.

'Mr Gudmundsson is known in Iceland for his love of football. As a young man he played for the country's oldest club, KR in Reykjavik, where he later became the chairman.

'Under his chairmanship the club regained its leading status in Icelandic football and became champions for the first time in nearly 30 years. He has given Mr Magnusson his full and absolute support in his efforts to mount a successful bid for West Ham United.'

Landsbanki has operations in 16 countries including the UK where it operates its own London branch, the security house Teather & Greenwood and Heritable Bank, a bank specialising in property finance and savings accounts.

West Ham gave permission for their accounts to be made available after an offer from a rival bid failed to materialise.

It is understood Magnusson is unconcerned by reports that an unnamed American businessman is also interested in the club and believes his offer will prove attractive to West Ham shareholders.

Magnusson, who along with other members of the consortium are also putting up some of the money, met West Ham chairman Terry Brown on Monday and indicated he would be prepared to offer £75million, with the bulk coming from equity rather than borrowing, and would also be prepared to take on the £22.5million debt.

Magnusson also committed to making funds available for new signings in the transfer window and to keep faith with the under-pressure manager Alan Pardew.

The latest development means the likelihood of the bid fronted by Iranian-born Kia Joorabchian proving to be successful is dwindling by the day.