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Mega-money Dubai firm credited with Toon interest

Mike Ashley is quoting heavyweight investment firms in Dubai a whopping £480m to buy his stricken club, according to reports in the Middle-East.

Newspapers in the region claim Ashley's asking price is contained in documents handed over to Dubai"s Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Two firms have been credited with an interest in the North East club, which Ashley put up for sale on Sunday night after a wave of protests following Kevin Keegan's acrimonious departure from the club.

Zabeel Investments - currently building an eco-friendly hotel with Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt - and Dubai Investment Group are being considered to front any deal.

It is thought Ashley has set his price sky-high to enable room to manouevere if any serious negotiations develop.

According to the sale documents, Ashley wants to recoup his entire investment, plus take a massive profit.

"That price is just too much for this club, but we will see what happens and what offer can be made," a source close to the talks told Arabian Business newspaper.

Last year Al Hashimi revealed that Zabeel Investments had been part of the Dubai-led consortium that failed to buy Liverpool Football Club in February 2006.

The Dubai-based diversified investment company is focused on the areas of commercial real estate development and management, private equity and asset management across a wide range of economic sectors in the UAE.

Dubai Investment Group is part of Dubai Holding, it has invested in capital markets and real estate in the Indian sub-continent and South East Asia. Both companies are owned by Dubai's Ruler Sheikh Mohammed.

The club was not immediately available for comment.

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