Date: 25th February 2006 at 12:16pm
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The mystery shareholder who yesterday purchased 2,542,737 shares in Southampton Leisure Holdings for now understood to be £1.4million has been revealed as property tycoon Michael Wilde.

It’s understood he is totally seperate from the consortium led by Andrew Strode-Gibbons and could himself mount a bid to oust Lowe, before the consortium have even moved to purchase any shares.

Wilde is a Hampshire based chairman of Merlion Group plc. Their Chief Executive Alistair Baker said: ‘This is an exciting time for Michael, the Merlion Group, and Southampton Football Club. Michael and I have worked closely for many years and I am sure successful times lie ahead for all involved, from supporters to shareholders. We are proud to be associated with the club in this way.’

So it’s still pretty unclear what Wilde’s intentions are and if this deal is his personal venture or is being carried out by the Merlion Group; If so it would appear similar to the arrangement with Rupert Lowe and the current board.

From the statement above it does suggest the club will remain on the stock exchange instead of being taken private, as Baker suggests ‘successful times lie ahead for all involved, from supporters to shareholders.’

In the City it is thought the purchase is a prelude to a full takeover bid, which could now be mounted early next week.

 

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