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By ESPN Staff
Nov 17, 2006

No takeover bid for Magpies, insists Shepherd

Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd has insisted the club has not received a formal takeover bid amid claims that the Belgravia Group is ready to make its move.

A report on Friday claimed that the Jersey-based investment group is preparing a £235million swoop which will involve a lucrative property deal and up to 7,000 jobs.

However, Shepherd told Sky Sports News: 'If there was a bid put in I'd be obliged to report it to the Stock Exchange, but there's being no bid for Newcastle.'

A spokesman for Belgravia said: 'We are still in negotiations, but no formal offer has been made and we do not comment on press speculation.'

Shepherd has in the past challenged potential investors to make their move and his frustration was evident as he added: 'Any club, any business gets damaged by people constantly referring to bids. It certainly raises the profiles of these companies.'

Both Belgravia and US hedge fund Polygon have expressed an interest in the club, and former chairman Sir John Hall has confirmed he has held talks over his holding, which amounts to around 29 per cent with his son Douglas controlling another 12 per cent.

However, Shepherd owns further 28 per cent and has shown few signs of being ready to relinquish his interest in the club as he approaches nine years in the hot-seat.

The chairman became the target for angry fans following Newcastle's 1-0 Premiership defeat by Sheffield United at St James' Park on November 4.

He later vowed to continue his work to restore the club's fortunes and claimed that if a Geordie Roman Abramovich came forward, he would welcome him with open arms.

There have even been suggestions that Shepherd could launch his own takeover after gradually increasing his stake to take him close to the 30 per cent threshold at which he would have to make an offer to the remaining shareholders.

Should Belgravia make a move, both Shepherd and the Halls would stand to make sizeable fortunes from selling out, although the headline figure could be misleading.

If the total value of the project did amount to £235million, it is understood while that would mean a sizeable dividend for shareholders, it would also include the budget for whatever investment the new owners saw necessary in order to revive the club's fortunes.

The recent speculation, coupled with a £1million investment in shares by Isle of man-based equity fund Northcote (IOM) Ltd - Kapena Fund, has strengthened the club's share price, which stood at 70p earlier today, valuing Newcastle at significantly in excess of £93million.

Northcote bought 1,475,000 shares at 72.8p, costing a total of £1,073,800, but insisted their purchase was not part of a takeover bid.