Lowy sells out of Sydney FC
May 4, 2012 - 3:20PM
Frank Lowy and Paul Ramsay are withdrawing their backing of Sydney FC, leaving the club in the hands of Russian billionaire David Traktovenko, who will now own more than 90 per cent of the under-performing Sky Blues.
The trigger for the shift in power between the three billionaires came last week, when Ramsay decided to cut his losses - believed to be more than $5million in the past three seasons - and return his 37 per cent shareholding.
Lowy, like Traktovenko, is a foundation shareholder in the club, but sold down his holding to 15 per cent three years ago - partly because of conflict of interest issues surrounding his other role as Football Federation Australia chairman.
Under the terms of that agreement, Lowy was to be given first option to buy back the shares if either Ramsay or Traktovenko opted to leave. When Ramsay made his intentions clear, it's believed Lowy then made a bid to buy back both Ramsay's and Traktovenko's shareholdings, but the Russian has refused to sell. Instead Lowy is now set to follow Ramsay out of the club, almost certainly prompting at least one minor investor, fellow FFA board member Phil Wolanski, to follow him.
Once the deal is completed, Traktovenko's stake will climb from 37 per cent to more than 90 per cent - effectively making Sydney FC the second foreign-owned club in the A-League after Brisbane Roar. Traktovenko is a former owner of recently-crowned Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg, and is likely to start building closer ties between the two clubs now that he has full control.
Co-incidentally, Central Coast Mariners could also be on the verge of selling to Russian interests, with Spartak Moscow owner Leonid Fedun having already agreed in principle to take over the club.