Portsmouth and ex-Disney CEO Michael Eisner to hold exclusive takeover talks

Michael Eisner
Michael Eisner was chief executive of Walt Disney until 2005

Portsmouth are to enter into exclusive discussions with former Walt Disney chief executive Michael Eisner about a potential takeover of the club.

Reports of Eisner, 75, and his Tornante Investment Group's interest in the League Two club emerged on Monday.

A 70-day negotiation and due diligence period has begun between the parties.

Portsmouth have been a fan-owned club since exiting administration in 2013, with the Pompey Supporters' Trust (PST) owning 48% of its shares.

Eisner, who is also a former President of Paramount Pictures, posted on Twitter: "Exciting times! Looking forward to coming over and meeting you all. Good luck against Newport County on Saturday!!"

Portsmouth are third in League Two, four points inside the automatic promotion places, with eight games remaining this season.

"I think it's great for Pompey fans in general," manager Paul Cook told BBC Radio Solent.

"Our board and everyone involved, to take the club from where it was three and a half years ago to where it is now, speaks volumes for a lot of people.

"I'll concentrate on Newport on Saturday and hope everything goes well on that side."

'Cautious optimism'

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin welcomed the news of Eisner's interest, but warned the process is in its early stages.

"I think the buzzwords we've got to use are cautious optimism," he said.

Fratton Park entrance
Portsmouth are looking to secure automatic promotion from League Two this season

"Michael Eisner will have to prove his worth. He's a real individual with a proven track record of dealing with the public and dealing with them in a very responsible manner.

"He's heavily committed into community charitable causes back in the USA. So, he ticks a lot of boxes and has gone over a lot of hurdles to get to this point."

Shareholders to have final say

During negotiations, Eisner is expected to explain his future strategy and plans for the club to all shareholders. Portsmouth will not engage in discussions with any other potential bidder during the 70-day period.

Its board have retained Trevor Birch to advise them during the negotiating process, who will liaise with all of the club's stakeholders.

Trevor Birch
Trevor Birch has advised a number of football clubs during takeover negotiations

Birch, a former administrator of the club when it came close to liquidation in 2012, will be key to understanding the club's "community ethos and intricacies of the current fan ownership model", a statement said.

If a proposed deal is negotiated successfully, shareholders will vote on whether to accept it.

Who is Michael Eisner?

Michael Eisner
Michael Eisner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Eisner's net worth was put at $1bn by Forbes in 2015.
  • He headed up Walt Disney for 21 years before leaving with 14.3 million shares.
  • After leaving Disney, he set up Tornante in 2005 and was one of the early investors in Netflix as well as trading card manufacturer Topps.
  • Tornante is a privately held company that invests in, acquires and operates companies in media and entertainment.
  • He is understood to have previously shown an interest in acquiring Championship club Reading.

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