Liebherr Group, the family-owned construction machinery manufacturing giant, is reported to be backing a bid by a billionaire Swiss family to rescue the bankrupt English football club, Southampton FC.
The identity of the family is as yet unknown but it is reported in the British media that it is pushing to complete the deal, worth £12.5 million, as quickly as possible. The Liebherr Group is an international company that has links to Southampton through subsidiary company Liebherr Cranes. The group was founded in 1949 by Hans Liebherr and is now jointly managed by his children Isolde and Willi Liebherr. It encompasses more than 100 companies and recorded a turnover of €8 billion in 2008.
The club's administrator, Mark Fry, is confident that this takeover bid will be successful. He said: "There are still one or two issues to resolve, as there are when a complicated takeover is going on, but for me they have ticked all the right boxes. Although you're never sure a buyer won't pull out, I'm more confident of a sale."
If this bid is successful Southampton will join the growing number of English football clubs controlled by wealthy families, including Manchester City FC owned by Sheik Mansour and family, Liverpool FC owned by George Gillette, Tom Hicks and their respective families, and QPR FC part-owned by Lakshmi Mittal and family.