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FB Roundup: Gautam Adani, Asif Aziz, Mike Danson

FB Roundup: Gautam Adani, Asif Aziz, Mike Danson
In this week’s FB Roundup, Gautam Adani bids for an Ambani-owned Indian power plant; Asif Aziz wins permission to turn London’s Trocadero into a mosque; and billionaire businessman Mike Danson is set to take control of Wigan Warriors.
By Glen Ferris
Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani bids for Ambani-owned Indian power plant
Indian billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani is looking to bid for Vidarbha Industries Power, a subsidiary of Reliance Power currently owned by Reliance Group managing director Anil Ambani.

Adani, the founder and chairman of the multinational Adani Group and 18th wealthiest man in the world (according to the Bloomberg Billionaires' Index), may face competition for the coal-fired 600-megawatt generation unit in central India, however, as Reliance Power is also mulling an attempt to win back control of the company which is currently being auctioned by lenders. 

Former billionaire Anil Ambani is currently locked in a succession battle with elder brother Mukesh Ambani (Asia’s richest man, according to Bloomberg) after their father, Dhirubhai Ambani, died in 2002 without leaving a clear wealth transference plan.

Following his father’s passing, Anil Ambani received parts of Reliance Group, with interests in telecom, entertainment, financial services and infrastructure (according to Rediff.com), as well as India's largest initial public offering (IPO) Reliance Power.

However, Anil Ambani was subsequently labelled one of the fastest destroyers of shareholder wealth in the past 100 years with the combined group market cap declining by 90% since the formation of the Reliance ADA Group, according to The Economic Times.

Since early 2019, Anil Ambani has been locked in various legal battles over non-payment of personally guaranteed debt, negotiable certificate of deposit (NCD) defaults and questions about tax evasion. 

If Gautam Adani secures the purchase of Vidarbha Industries Power, it would add to Adani Group’s burgeoning portfolio of coal power projects across India. 

Asif Aziz

Asif Aziz wins permission to turn London’s Trocadero into a mosque
London-based billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Asif Aziz has been granted permission to turn the former central London entertainment complex, the Trocadero, into a mosque.

The founder and chief executive of property firm Criterion Capital – known as Mr West End, due to owning a £3.6 billion property portfolio primarily across central London – Aziz had previously applied to build a 1,000-person-capacity mosque on the Coventry Street site but plans were initially withdrawn due to criticism from residents.

According to The Daily Mail, Westminster Council has now approved a three-storey mosque for 390 worshippers, which will reportedly be named the Piccadilly Prayer Space, and is expected to be open within months.

“A planning application by [Aziz’ charitable arm] the Aziz Foundation to convert a part of the London Trocadero was approved by the council’s planning committee in May 2023,” said a council spokesperson, as reported by The Sun newspaper.

Situated between Piccadilly Circus and Soho, the Trocadero first opened in 1896 as a restaurant, but later closed down in 1965. The site was reopened in 1984 as the sprawling amusement venue SegaWorld, but suffered dwindling fortunes until it was part relaunched as the 490-room Zedwell hotel in 2020.

Aziz, who bought the Trocadero building for more than £220 million in 2005, will keep the Zedwell Hotel in operation, while the new mosque will take over the space that housed a Metro cinema which has been vacant since 2006.

Mike Danson

Billionaire businessman Mike Danson to take control of Wigan Warriors
The newly minted owner of Wigan Athletic Football Club is also set to take over the professional rugby league club, Wigan Warriors, marking the first time both clubs have been held by the same custodian in the English town’s history.

Mike Danson, a serial entrepreneur, media proprietor and philanthropist, took control of Wigan Athletic last month following major financial issues at the League One club, according to The Business Desk. Now it has been confirmed that he will become the new owner of the rugby league team following the announcement that long-time chairman Ian Lenagan is to stand down at the end of the season after 16 years of Lenagan family ownership of the club.

“I am pleased to have been the custodian of Wigan Warriors for 16 years and particularly in its celebratory 150th year,” said Lenagan. “Custodianship also brings the responsibility to find your successor and in Mike Danson, someone I’ve grown to know and like a great deal over the last three years, I believe the club’s future will be in the best of hands with his history as a long-term supporter of Wigan Warriors. His humility and steel to continue the tradition we all contribute to and appreciate the value of, is based on true Wigan resolve.”

As new outright owner, Danson, who founded data analytics firm GlobalData and is also the owner of The New Statesman magazine, will take over the club in December this year. 

“As I have got to know Ian over the past three years, it is clear how much this great club means to him and his family,” said Danson, who is ranked by The Times as the 128th richest person in the UK with an estimated personal fortune of £1.17 billion. “He has been a fantastic custodian of the club and a strong advocate for this wonderful game at all levels. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Warriors thrive under Ian’s stewardship, both on and off the pitch, and I’m honoured and grateful to be taking on the responsibility as the club’s custodian.

“We will do everything we can to bring success and honour to the Warriors and to make our loyal supporters proud.” 

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