Sulaiman Al Fahim is the CEO of Hydra Properties, a real estate company based in Abu Dhabi, operating under the umbrella of Royal Group, a diversified multibillion dollar conglomerate that has its tentacles in real estate, construction, media, manufacturing, and technology. The chairman of the Royal Group is Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of Man City's owner Shiekh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Hydra Properties has been featured in the news regularly, fighting adverse publicity over Hydra Village, its troubled real estate flagship.
The association creates a potential conflict of interest as it gives the same entity controlling interests in two Premiership clubs which is against the EPL's "fit and proper" test. Man City's take over trained a spotlight on Sheikh Mansour. This article provides a disturbing analysis:
Sheikh Mansour made headlines earlier in September 2008 when he bought Manchester City, the Premiership side with a long pedigree in the UK. The FT on Sept. 20 quoted Phil Carling, head of global football at sports consultancy Octagon Worldwide, as saying: "I call it the 'George Bush' strategy. [President George W. Bush] used his involvement in the Texas Rangers baseball team as a spring-board for political success. Elite football is a way to evangelize products to the world and a platform for all sorts of business". Football is the most popular sport in the GCC and can be a spring-board for personal prestige and business development for ambitious members of al-Nahyan family.
Al-Fahim has strenuously asserted that Hydra Properties is independent of Fahim Asia Associates, the investment vehicle created to launch such takeover bids. The funds raised have come from many investor sources located across the globe and there are no royal connections. Fahim Asia Associates has stated its willingness to disclose its board of directors to end speculation about the Hydra Properties association.
These statements should be put in context. There is lots of speculation that the Royal Group is behind the spectacular rise of Hydra Properties, a company that came out of the blue, fueled by the real estate boom.
As this thread reveals, there is growing disquiet over the financial viability of Hydra Properties, even as they announce expansions into Mexico, Pakistan, and the UAE. Among the big financiers of Hydra Properties and its seemingly bottomless ambition is First Gulf Bank, whose chairman is Man City's owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Not suprisingly, Sheikh Tahnoon Al Nahyan, is also the chairman of Hydra Properties.
Meanwhile, Al Fahim has gone ahead with his plans for Pompey, which includes player transfers and a stadium expansion. This even as his bid is yet to be officially approved. His desire is to see Emirati player Ahmed Khalil, Al Ahli's striker and Asian player of the year at Fratton Park.
Al-Fahim is no doubt an ambitious and flamboyant man who may like to own a Premiership club but there are many questions about how he can claim independence from the royal family. The Al Nahyans virtually control Abu Dhabi. It ensures a cozy relationship between them and its foot soldiers who rely on their patronage and wealth to do business. There are very few degrees of separation and many forms of payoffs.
Even EPL chief sponsors, Barclays Bank is tangled up in this association. They turned to the deep pockets of the Al Nahyans last year for help in the midst of the financial crisis. Just recently, Sheikh Mansour Al Nahyan's company International Petroleum Investment Company sold of its 12% stake in the bank for a 173% mark up, netting a whopping £1.5 billion in profit. The sell off led to a sharp drop in Barclay's share prices even as IPIC issued a statement:
"IPIC has a high regard for Barclays, and great confidence in its management team and ongoing strategy."
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