Leeds Utd takeover moves closer as GFH agrees stake sale

Reuters

(Adds latest Leeds United statement, background)

DUBAI/LONDON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Bahrain-based investment company Gulf Finance House (GFH) has agreed to sell part of its stake in English soccer club Leeds United, smoothing the way for a takeover by a British consortium.

Leeds managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, managing director of club sponsor Enterprise Insurance, are part of a group buying a stake of at least 75 percent in the former English soccer champions.

GFH bought Leeds, now playing in the second tier of English soccer, in December 2012 through its Dubai-based subsidiary GFH Capital, but fans' hopes of a long-term commitment and heavy investment were dashed when GFH cut its stake to less than 50 percent within six months.

In a brief statement on Wednesday, GFH confirmed it had agreed the sale of part of its remaining stake to British investors but gave no further details.

Besides GFH, Bahrain-based International Investment Bank and Leeds chairman Salah Nooruddin's Envest company all own more than 10 percent of Leeds, according to the club website.

Leeds won the English league title in 1992 and remain one of the best-supported clubs outside of the Premier League.

The team is currently 11th in the 24-team Championship but on a poor run of form, having been thrashed 6-0 by local rivals Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.

(Reporting by Dinesh Nair in Dubai and Keith Weir in London; Editing by David Goodman)

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