Wigan Athletic release statement following ownership announcement

Wigan Athletic have issued a statement in response to their owners, International Entertainment Corporation, announcing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange their intention to transfer ownership of the club to a fund owned by chairman Stanley Choi.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 3:35 pm
The DW Stadium

"International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) – the holding company of Wigan Athletic Football Club – have today issued a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange," the statement read.

"The announcement states that IEC have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Next Leader Limited (NLL), a fund in which IEC’s majority shareholder Dr. Choi Chiu Fai Stanley intends to act as the limited partner.

"The Memorandum of Understanding states that Next Leader Limited intends to set up the Fund and the Fund will purchase the entire issued share capital of the Wigan Athletic Group from IEC plc.

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"At this time, this is only an intention set out in the agreement and there will be a period of at least one month’s due diligence prior to any transaction being complete.

"IEC will make a further statement with regards to the proposed transaction at the appropriate time."

The development, which comes just over a year since IEC took control from the Whelan family, is not expected to result in significant changes to the day-to-day running of the club.

But taking it away from IEC would eliminate the need for such announcements having to go through the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The statement - headlined 'Inside Information Memorandum of Understanding in Respect of the Possible Disposal' - was made on Monday morning (November 18).

And it confirms that the deal will go through as soon as it's ratified and given the green light, with a one-month due diligence period now underway.

It continued: "It is the intention that Dr. Choi Chiu Fai Stanley, the chairman of the Board, an executive Director and a controlling shareholder of the Company, will subscribe for 51 per cent interests of the Fund upon its establishment and act as the limited partner of the Fund, with the remaining 49 per cent interests of the Fund is expected to be subscribed by individual(s) or corporate(s) who is/are third party(ies) independent of the Company and its connected persons (as defined in the Listing Rules) and act as the limited partner(s) of the Fund.

"Accordingly, the Fund shall be an associate of a connected person of the Company, and thus a connected person of the Company under Chapter 14A of the Listing Rules.

"The Target Company is principally engaged in the operation of Wigan Athletic Football Club which is a professional association football club based in Wigan, Greater Manchester, England and a sports stadium, namely the DW Stadium, with conference and other facilities.

"Pursuant to the terms of the MOU, NLL shall be permitted to conduct a legal, financial and technical due diligence audit of the Target Company for a period of one (1) month from the date of the MOU (the ‘‘Due Diligence Period’’).

"The Company shall provide, in a timely manner, all the documents, materials and information which may be requested by NLL, its representatives and/or any of its advisors.

"The Due Diligence Period may be extended for an additional period of one (1) month upon the written request of NLL.

"As at the date of this announcement, the Board comprises two executive Directors, namely Dr. Choi Chiu Fai Stanley and Mr. Chan Chun Yiu Thomas, and three independent non-executive Directors, namely Ms. Lu Gloria Yi, Mr. Sun Jiong and Mr. Ha Kee Choy Eugene."