Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim buys Valencia football team

Peter Lim's dream of owning European soccer club comes true with purchase

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 1:23am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 1:23am


Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, the new owner of Valencia, has realised a long-held dream by buying a top European soccer club and will hope for better fortunes than some of his fellow Asian investors.

Publicity-shy Lim, 60, a fishmonger's son who made his wealth by investing in a palm oil company, is an avid Manchester United fan who nonetheless was linked to a bid for their arch-rivals Liverpool in 2010.

On Saturday, patrons of the Valencia Foundation unanimously approved Lim's proposal to take a 70.4 per cent stake in the debt-stricken Spanish club, which twice reached the Champions League final.

Valencia's hierarchy has been looking for investors since principal creditor Bankia refused to refinance the combined €306 million (HK$3.24 billion) debt the club and its foundation have with the bank.

Lim has an estimated US$2.4 billion fortune and owns a string of Manchester United-themed bars in Asia. The father of two is married to former actress Cherie Lim.

With an 11-storey home in Singapore's plush Orchard Road district, according to reports, and a fleet of 25 Ferraris, Lim appears to have the means to prop up the six-time La Liga champions.

Valencia fans may be forgiven for some trepidation, however, with clubs experiencing mixed fortunes after being snapped up by foreign owners.

In the most extreme case, ex-Hong Kong hairdresser-turned-Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung Ka-sing was jailed for six years for money laundering in March.

Malaysian tycoon Vincent Tan provoked anger from fans of Welsh club Cardiff City, nicknamed "the Bluebirds", when he changed their kit colour from blue to red, saying it was a luckier colour.

On a more positive note, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has turned Chelsea into one of Europe's top clubs and Manchester City, owned by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour, are the Premier League champions and estimated as the highest paid sports team worldwide.

Lim's proposal intends to clear Valencia's debts and invest heavily in a playing squad that barely managed to break into the top half of La Liga this season, but reached the Europa League semi-finals. "I am very glad to have been selected the winning bidder after a rigorous selection process," Lim said..