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CFG set to add Brazil’s Esporte Clube Bahia to soccer portfolio

Manchester City owner tables proposal worth ‘US$185.5m’ for second-tier club.

27 September 2022 Ed Dixon

Esporte Clube Bahia

  • CFG poised to add 12th club to ownership group
  • Latest deal since Brazilian teams were allowed to be controlled by external investors

City Football Group (CFG), the owner of English soccer champions Manchester City, has agreed to acquire Brazilian second-tier club Esporte Clube Bahia.

The deal would see CFG add a 12th club to its expanding portfolio which, in addition to City, includes Major Soccer’s (MLS) New York City FC, the A-League’s Melbourne City, and Spanish top-flight side Girona.

CFG’s most recent investment was a majority stake in Italian second-tier outfit Palermo, paying a reported UK£11.2 million (US$12.1 million) for its 80 per cent shareholding in July.

According to Bahia-based newspaper Jornal A Tarde, CFG will take a 90 per cent stake in Bahia and the proposal is worth R$1 billion (US$185.5 million). Of that, R$500 million (US$92.7 million) will be made available for player transfers, R$300 million (US$55.6 million) will be allocated to pay off the club’s debts and R$200 million (US$37.1 million) will go towards other investments such as infrastructure.

Club members will vote to approve the takeover. Although CFG would control the day-to-day running of Bahia, the club’s ‘identity, colours and anthem’ will reportedly not change.

Negotiations between the pair began earlier this year, with Bahia president Guilherme Bellintani telling Brazilian media at the time that the deal was worth R$650 million (US$120.6 million).

It would be the latest high-profile outlay since laws were introduced allowing Brazilian clubs to be run as limited liability companies controlled by external investors. The biggest deal to date is Miami-based alternative investment firm 777 Partners’ purchase of Vasco da Gama in February, which valued the club at R$1.7 billion (US$315 million).

It would also take the number of South American clubs with CFG ties to three. The group owns Uruguayan team Montevideo City Torque and has a partnership with Bolivian giants Club Bolivar.

On the pitch, Bahia sit third in the second division, putting them on course for an instant return to the domestic top-flight after being relegated last season. The club has won two domestic league titles in 1959 and 1988.

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