November 4, 2008 / 8:03 AM / 11 years ago

Media hype stalls Zabeel football ambitions

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai’s Zabeel Investments, an investor in Sony and planemaker EADS, said that the timing of the global financial crisis and excessive media speculation had deterred it from buying a British football club.

Zabeel, which last year tried to buy Liverpool, called off a proposed takeover of second division club Charlton Athletic in October.

“The timing wasn’t right and post that, all of a sudden it opened up a Pandora’s box,” Mohammed Ali Al-Hashimi, executive chairman of Zabeel Investments told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit on Tuesday.

“People were talking about foreign ownership ... every other day we spent time denying this club and that club and it became out of control. We are used to doing things relatively under the radar and our focus became having to keep an eye on what was being written in the media.”

Al-Hashimi said that they had looked to buy Charlton Athletic, a second division side, because premiership clubs were overvalued. He added that Zabeel would look at lower-profile opportunities without specifying if it would look at buying clubs in the future.

Al-Hashimi had told Reuters in September that his firm was no longer looking at football teams as valuations had risen.

Speculation has grown that Gulf Arab investors would look to emulate an Abu Dhabi-based group that took over Manchester City on September 1 by buying into football teams.

Reporting by Jason Benham; editing by Hans Peters

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