Wigan Athletic takeover moves step closer

The impending takeover of Wigan Athletic has moved a step closer with International Entertainment Corporation being revealed as the proposed new owners.

Tuesday, 6th February 2018, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th February 2018, 7:48 pm
Henry Cheng

IEC, the casino and hotel property leasing firm controlled by the Cheng family dynasty, has confirmed to the Honk Kong Stock Exchange they’ve entered into a pre-agreement term sheet to purchase the League One leaders.

Speaking at the Latics AGM last month, chief executive Jonathan Jackson read out a statement to shareholders, on behalf of the Whelan family, confirming ‘non-disclosure agreements had been signed in October’, and that further discussions were ongoing.

Those talks have obviously gone well, with the Whelan family happy that the new owners ‘retain the fundamental ethos and tradition of the club’, while possessing ‘the required financial resources’ to take the club forward.

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A 14-day exclusivity period will expire on February 14, by which time IEC and the Whelan family will have resumed negotiations into a definitive share purchase agreement.

While the proposed takeover has been an open secret since news broke almost four months ago, this is the first time the identity of the new buyers has been confirmed.

IEC are principally involved in the hotel, casino and leisure business, but see Latics as ‘very substantial acquisition for the company’ as they try to expand their portfolio.

“The proposed acquisition, if materialised, represents a good opportunity to diversify the income stream of the company and broaden its revenue base,” said a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The Cheng family is one of Hong Kong’s most established tycoon dynasties.

At the head is 70-year-old Henry, who is believed to have a net worth of US $1.3billion.

He is said to lean on his Harvard-educated, banking-groomed offspring Adrian, Brian and Sonia.

He has three other children - Christopher, Chak Wang and Chak Yin.