Owners of U.S. baseball team and Citadel's Griffin team up for Chelsea bid

Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich arrives at a division of the High Court in central London October 31, 2011. REUTERS

The owners of U.S. baseball team the Chicago Cubs have teamed up with Citadel founder Ken Griffin to work on a bid to buy English Premier League soccer club Chelsea, a spokesperson for Griffin confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday.

The Cubs' owners, the Ricketts family, and Griffin have formed an investment group which is set to make a formal offer for the London club on Friday.

Reuters has been told the bid does not involve Citadel, the hedge fund business, only Griffin.

Chelsea were initially put up for sale by its owner Roman Abramovich following Russia's invasion of Ukraine before sanctions were imposed on the Russian oligarch by the British government.

The European champions are currently operating under a special licence and are now effectively controlled by the British government.

Abramovich bought the club in 2003 for a reported 140 million pounds ($183.16 million). He had funded Chelsea via 1.5 billion pounds in total loans through Fordstam Limited, the entity through which he owns the club.

His investment resulted in the most successful era in their history as they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.

Chelsea are ranked by Forbes as the seventh most valuable club in world soccer at $3.2 billion.

The club are third in the league standings -- 11 points behind leaders Manchester City -- while they are set to play Lille in the Champions League last-16 second leg later on Wednesday.


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