Singapore billionaire Lim new owner of Spanish club Valencia

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

Publicity-shy Lim, 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 60-year-old Lim’s proposal to take a 70.4 percent 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 euro ($530 million) debt the club and its foundation has with the bank.

Lim has an estimated $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 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 was jailed for six years for money-laundering in March.

The club was relegated from the English Premier League in 2011 and only survived dropping to England’s third tier on the last day of the season earlier this month.

Similarly, Indian poultry firm Venky’s bought Blackburn Rovers for 23 million pounds in November 2010. Amid a stream of negative headlines, the club followed Birmingham out of the Premier League in 2012.

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

Cardiff, after winning promotion to the Premier League last year under Tan, have now been relegated again in a season marked by a row over the dismissal of their manager Malky Mackay.

And Malaysian budget airline impresario Tony Fernandes has also seen his plans for a revamp at Queens Park Rangers stumble, after the London club dropped out of the Premier League last year.

Part-time taxi driver

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. Fans of Valencia Football Club can finally see an end to months of uncertainty,” Lim said in a statement late Saturday.

Lim was educated at the Raffles Institution, Singapore’s top secondary school, and has a degree in accountancy from the University of Western Australia. He took on part-time jobs as a taxi driver, a cook and waiter to finance his way through university.

In one of his rare media interviews, Lim said his first job as an accountant lasted only three months and he did some tax consultancy work before cutting his teeth in the world of stock-broking, where he began building his massive fortune.

Lim’s success as a stockbroker earned him the moniker “Remisier King”, from the Singaporean term for the profession. He advises young investors to look at the prospects of a sector before buying stock, adding that investments should be for the long term.

“You have to invest with a longer-term mindset. You buy a good stock, leave it there for 10 years. Come 10 years, this dollar can be many, many multiples,” he said in a 2007 interview.

US magazine Forbes on its website estimates Lim’s fortune at $2.4 billion and ranks him number 739 among the world’s billionaires. Forbes ranked him the 10th richest person in Singapore in 2013.

Lim rarely gives media interviews, but friends have been quoted as saying he remains humble despite his wealth and is heavily involved in charity work.

林荣福正式成为瓦伦西亚的老板

  新浪体育讯 北京时间5月18号凌晨,西甲劲旅瓦伦西亚对外官方宣布林荣福将成为俱乐部的新老板。

  据西班牙《马卡报》介绍,新加坡富商林荣福购得瓦伦西亚70.4%的股份,他的报价击败了其他六家的报价。星期六上午,瓦伦西亚高层在瓦伦西亚宫酒店召开了将近4小时的会议,最终选择了林荣福的报价。林荣福将成为俱乐部的新老板,同时也将承担俱乐部的债务。

  据瓦伦西亚基金会主席透露,林荣福承诺一次性支付给瓦伦西亚基金会9000万欧元来偿还债务,以及今后6年每年100万;林荣福还将向俱乐部注资9500万欧元,其中6000万用于转会,3500万属于流动资金。

  另据《马卡报》的消息,林荣福计划将球场以1亿5000万的价格卖出,如果转手失败,自己投资修建新球场,力争在2019年瓦伦西亚百年队庆之前,完成新球场的建设。此外林荣福确认现任主帅皮齐的留任。林荣福还将为瓦伦西亚带来新鲜血液,本菲卡的加雷、阿德烈-戈麦斯以及罗德里格都是他收购的目标。

  林荣福出生于1954年,是华裔新加坡人。在林荣福小的时候,他的父亲靠贩鱼维持全家的生计。经过自己的不懈努力,林荣福成长为新加坡最成功的股票经纪人,曾经赢得新加坡“股票经纪王”的称号。1996年,林荣福转行做全职投资。由于拥有丰益控股的大量股票,林荣福的资产从最初的1000万美元激增到7亿美元,现在的林荣福还是时装零售商FJ本杰明(FJ Benjamin)及啤酒餐厅酿佳香(Brewerkz)的股东。在今年三月福布斯杂志公布的全球亿万富翁排行榜上,林荣福排名第655位,净资产达15亿美元。林荣福旗下的公司在时尚、物流以及农业方面均有涉猎,资金雄厚。此前,林荣福曾经尝试过收购曼联和利物浦俱乐部,但都没有成功。