GFH sells stake in Leeds United to Italy’s Eleonora Sport

The Bahraini Islamic investment bank GFH bought Leeds in December 2012, but quickly sold the majority of it to Italy’s Eleonora Sport. This week Eleonora bought the remainder of the club.
The Bahraini Islamic investment bank GFH bought Leeds in December 2012, but quickly sold the majority of it to Italy’s Eleonora Sport. This week Eleonora bought the remainder of the club. Olly Greenwood / AFP
The Bahraini Islamic investment bank GFH bought Leeds in December 2012, but quickly sold the majority of it to Italy’s Eleonora Sport. This week Eleonora bought the remainder of the club. Olly Greenwood / AFP

Bahrain investment group GFH said on Thursday that it had sold its remaining shareholding in Leeds United FC, ending the group’s troubled four-year relationship with the English football club.

GFH said yesterday that its Dubai-based subsidiary GFH Capital had completed the sale of its remaining 18 per cent stake in Leeds to Eleanora Sport, the family trust of Massimo Cellino, which now owns 100 per cent of the club.

The transaction was announced on Leeds’ website on September 8. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

GFH acquired Leeds in full in December 2012 for about £52 million, appointing its deputy chief executive David Haigh as the club’s managing director.

The investment firm subsequently sold a 75 per cent stake to Mr Cellino in April 2014, in a controversial deal that was initially blocked by the Football League because of controversies over Mr Cellino’s tax affairs in Italy.

Mr Haigh, who stepped down as the managing director the same month, was arrested on a visit to Dubai in May 2014, on charges of embezzling about US$5 million from GFH by way of a series of forged invoices.

Mr Haigh, who has always proclaimed his innocence, was sentenced to two years in jail in August 2015 for “breach of trust”, but was released in March this year and has subsequently returned to the United Kingdom.

GFH’s shares, listed on the Dubai stock exchange, were up about 1 per cent on Thursday morning.

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Published: September 15, 2016 04:00 AM

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