Saturday, December 05, 2009


After the appointment of Dato Chan Tien Ghee to the club’s board last week, Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale is now desperate to secure the involvement of ‘TG’s” associate Vincent Tan.

And with a personal wealth estimated at US$1.3bn there is little surprise Ridsdale is keen to bring on board a man who first made his fortune as a McDonald’s franchisee.

Tan – or Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun to give him his full title – had long been rumoured to be the man behind the man after Ridsdale first went public with his courting of Chan back in August.

The City supremo insisted then he had hoped his dealings with Chan could open up doors to both direct and indirect investment – and he has now gone public on his hopes entrepreneur Tan will add Cardiff City to his quite incredible portfolio.

Linked through Chan’s Central Malaysian Properties, Tan’s name was first publicly mentioned by Ridsdale during Monday night’s Q&A session with supporters.

And a brief glance at Tan’s business dealings suggest it would signal an end to the cash-flow issues that have been spoken about in recent times.

The head and chair of colossal conglomerate The Berjaya Group, 52-year-old Tan was last year placed by influential financial publishers Forbes as the ninth richest man in Malaysia with a net worth of US$1.3bn.

Unsurprising given the long list of interests with The Berjaya Group reported to include as many as seven public and 200 private companies ranging from gambling, telecommunications, media, textiles, tourism, financial services, property, industry and consumer marketing – combined sales of his network of enterprises reportedly reaching US$4bn.

But it is in the fast-food business that first gave Tan his break after he invested in the first McDonald’s franchise in Malaysia.

Having quit schooling at 17, he landed his first restaurant at 29. The golden arches now pop up in 185 different spots in Malaysia.

Starbucks is the other big US business that Tan has his hands on in his homeland through franchise rights and he has not been slow to invest wherever he feels there is an opening for enterprise.

“I move like a cheetah. Others, they move like elephants,” Tan said in a recent interview with Forbes.

And it seems he has not stopped moving, hinting at his willingness to look overseas with these comments from the same interview: “It’s a challenge. I want to learn how to do business and to be successful in different countries. It’s all about a combination of money and other factors that you have to organise into a force that creates value.”

Cardiff seem reliant on full investment from the Malaysians, whether from Tan directly or if TG is able to provide further funds following his apparent initial investment last week.

To put it in context, Ridsdale stated at the fans’ forum on Monday that talks with potential American investors are off.

And, after giving the first details of the proposed new agreement with Langston, it is clear Cardiff need injection of cash to meet the £10m 12-month repayment deadline set out.

As reported in yesterday’s Echo, Ridsdale insists there is a verbal agreement in place with Langston to restructure the existing debt by starting with monthly payments in January and the stadium naming rights valued at £5m rather than the £9m quoted figure under the previous agreement.

Ridsdale admitted there is a clause to pay £1m a year until 2016 should the club miss their £10m target in 2010.

Ridsdale also admitted at the meeting he hopes the debts – including the unpaid tax bill that brought about a High Court hearing last week – can be managed by Malaysian investment.

But the deal with Langston – hoped to be signed in the immediate future – is believed to be crucial in ensuring the club looks a much more of an attractive proposition, especially given their new stadium asset.

Ridsdale stated at the meetings the Malaysians are currently going through the club’s books.

It hasn’t been made clear in public whether they were aware of the High Court date with the Revenue until after it came to light via Media Wales.

Still Ridsdale painted a positive picture of the current standing with both Chan and Tan at the meeting with the fans’ at the capital’s municipal club.

“TG has put in an amount of money with another amount due this week,” he maintained.

“I cannot say how much that is, but I will say it is in the millions. I have also met with Vincent Tan.

“They have asked for all the numbers regarding the club and we have given them those.

“They will be considered with due diligence.

“They have indicated they are interested in investing in everything from a minority 10% stake in the club to a majority if they like what they see.

“British football is very attractive to people in the Far East.”