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One of Newcastle United's prospective buyers may hand Kevin Keegan a multi-million pound stake in the club, according to reports.

Investment bankers Seymour Pierce have been employed by owner Mike Ashley to sell the club amid the furore surrounding Keegan's recent departure from the club. A Nigerian consortium claim to have made a £200million offer, while a South African group are understood to be ready to make their own approach.

Seven potential buyers have been sent details of Newcastle's finances as moves to sell the club progress. It is understood the prospective owners have each been provided with a prospectus of sale by Seymour Pierce.

All seven have been required to sign a confidentiality agreement covering the sensitive information included in the document.

The Evening Chronicle, the city's evening newspaper, have reported that the South African consortium, who like their Nigerian counterparts want to re-install Keegan, will offer the 57-year-old a stake of up to 10% in the business if he returns.

The Chronicle suggests that the group of five so-far-unnamed businessmen have already tabled an offer of £280million, within touching distance of the figure Ashley is thought to want for the club.

Both the Nigerian and South African would-be investors remain anonymous and representatives of billionaire Johann Rupert, the man behind Swiss-owned luxury goods company Richemont, and multi-millionaire Vivian Imerman, a former owner of Del Monte who has since bought into Scottish whisky producer Whyte and Mackay, have denied any interest.

There was no comment from investment holding firm Bidvest over links with its founder, Brian Joffe, a man with a reputation for taking over failing companies and reviving them, an ability attributed to the South African consortium currently looking at Newcastle.


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