September 27, 2020

Sisu responds to Coventry City FC probe – but remains cagey on Cayman Islands dealings


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John Mutton is demanding investment in the Coventry City FC (Sky Blues).

SKY Blues owners Sisu insist recent off-shore dealings in the Cayman Islands do not threaten the club’s immediate future.

The hedge fund based in London’s Mayfair has responded for the first time to our exclusive investigation on Wednesday into its Cayman Islands business dealings with a company called Arvo Master Fund Ltd.

Sky Blues’ chief executive Tim Fisher then claimed Arvo is Sisu’s Cayman Islands-based hedge fund – which he said is now paying the £500,000 monthly losses at the relegated football club.

The debenture prompted speculation from fans – and football insolvency expert Brendan Guilfoyle – that it timing could be a precurser to the club going into adminstration.

Coventry City Council leader John Mutton had told us it underlined his concerns Sisu might be wanting to acquire a half-stake in the part-council-owned Ricoh stadium to use it as collateral, or re-imburse investors in the event of the Sky Blues’ adminstration or liquidation.

Coun Mutton insists – in city taxpayers’ interests – that for Sisu to acquire 50 per cent shares from the Alan Edward Higgs Charity in Arena Coventry Ltd, it would have to table a serious business case for investing in the club, stadium and surrounding land earmarked for a hotel and leisure complex.

The Telegraph put a series of questions to Sisu about Arvo, the timing and reasons for the debenture, and whether private equity funds initially set up by Sisu to fund Coventry City FC still had any investors left, or had been wound up.

Sisu responded with this statement, while refusing to put a name to it: “Sisu is a privately owned company that invests in a variety of projects and organisations using various legally approved and regulated entities in different parts of the world.

“Sisu is both an owner of, and creditor to, Coventry City FC and, in line with any other creditor, Sisu has taken appropriate and necessary steps to protect its interests over the loans.

“Far from posing any threat to the ongoing existence of the football club, Sisu’s recent injections of capital by way of loans has ensured the football club’s survival during a very difficult period. Sisu’s absolute focus and priority, together with the club’s executive team, is to find a solution to bring together a closer alignment of the club and the stadium.

“As such, Sisu and the club are currently engaged in detailed and constructive talks with Coventry City Council, Higgs Charity, and Arena Coventry Limited.

“Should the various parties reach any form of agreement then detailed, transparent, and legally binding contracts will be put in place to safeguard the interests of all interested parties.

“Talks are progressing well but remain commercially confidential to the parties involved and at this time neither Sisu nor the football club are able to make any further comment.”

It refused to give further details of Arvo’s business or value, amid concerns about the Cayman Islands’ reputation as a hedge fund tax haven shouded in business confidentiality.

Mr Fisher said in January the five private equity funds initially set up by Sisu to invest in Coventry City FC were in 2010 “wrapped together to form a single entity, Sconcett Capital LP” – based in the Cayman Islands. There was then no mention of Arvo.

Sisu also refused to say if has a property developer/investor in place to invest in the Ricoh and surrounding land.

The club – which has witheld its £100,000 Ricoh rental payments for two months – says it wants a deal urgently to get its accounts signed off, which would lift a transfer embargo and get players in for the third division in August. Ricoh talks between Sisu and the Higgs charity have entered four weeks of “due diligence”, and no deal, if any, is thought possible by the Higgs charity for another seven weeks.

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