Newcastle United co-owner, former owner talk settlement in loan dispute – UK court –

(Reuters) – British retail tycoon Mike Ashley and businesswoman Amanda Staveley hope to settle a lawsuit over a loan made by Ashley as part of last year’s Saudi-backed takeover of Premier League soccer club Newcastle United, a judge in London heard on Friday.

Ashley’s St James Holdings Limited sued Staveley in December 2021, saying she breached a clause of the agreement for a 10 million pound ($11.6 million) loan not to “admonish” Ashley about his 14-year ownership of the club. Staveley owns 10% of the club through her company PCP Capital Partners.

His lawyers say the loan, which is repayable by October 2023, should be repaid earlier as a result of Staveley’s alleged breach of the agreement – meaning a higher rate of interest is due on the loan, amounting to at most an extra 425,000 pounds.

At the first hearing in St James Holdings’ case against Staveley, Judge Simon Bryan at London’s High Court welcomed the fact the parties are “interested” in finding a way to end the case.

St James Holdings’ lawyer Richard Lissack said his client was willing to try to reach a settlement. Gerard Rothschild, representing Staveley, said in written arguments that discussions have taken place “within the past 10 days”.

The case concerns a loan made by Ashley to cover costs incurred by Staveley and her companies in relation to the purchase of Newcastle United by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund for 305 million pounds.

Ashley says Staveley broke the terms of the loan agreement twice in statements made to journalists, in November 2021 and January 2022.

His lawyers said Staveley breached the deal by saying she was looking forward to signs for Ashley’s company Sports Direct being removed from Newcastle United’s stadium and by telling a journalist that Ashley wanted to retain a minority stake but the new owners refused.

However, Staveley’s lawyers said the comments about the Sports Direct signs were “innocuous” and denied that she made statements about Ashley wanting to remain a minority shareholder.

The case is St James Holdings Limited v Staveley and another, CL-2021-000770.

For St James Holding: Richard Lissack and Robin Lööf of Fountain Court Chambers, and Dentons

For Staveley: Gerard Rothschild of Brick Court Chambers, and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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