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777 Partners takeover of Everton in further doubt after firm hit with legal action

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: A general aerial view of the Bramley Moore Dock and the construction progress of Everton Football Club's new football stadium with the teams present home Goodison Park in the background  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: A general aerial view of the Bramley Moore Dock and the construction progress of Everton Football Club's new football stadium with the teams present home Goodison Park in the background (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A prospective takeover of Everton has been plunged into further doubt by legal action from the former owners of Standard Liege. The American private equity firm could lose all of its assets in Belgium as a result.

Former owner Bruno Venanzi and the shareholders of Standard’s stadium allege that they have not received the second installment of their payment for the 777’s acquisition of the club in 2022.

The development raises further questions over whether the Premier League will grant the sale of a 94.1 per cent stake in Everton from owner Farhad Moshiri to 777 Partners.

Everton are under intense financial pressure, with reports that the club have approached insolvency experts from the consultancy firm Teneo to advise on their finances.

777 Partners allegations

It follows accusations over the weekend that the private equity firm has committed fraud worth hundreds of millions of pounds. The claims were made in a New York lawsuit filed by asset management companies Leadenhall Capital Partners LLP and Leadenhall Life Insurance Linked Investments Fund PLC.

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The companies are reported to be seeking damages after they alleged that 777 Partners used $350m of assets that either were not controlled by the Miami-based firm or which “did not exist”.

The court documents reportedly say that “Everton is the latest shiny object of Wander’s [Josh, founder] fraudulent scheme”. Leadenhall also added that Wander and co-founder Steve Pakso are “operating a giant shell game at best, and an outright Ponzi scheme at worst”, reports say.

777 Partners-owned budget airline Bonza also entered administration in Australia last Tuesday. All flights were abruptly cancelled, leaving hundreds stranded.

The firm has lent around £200m to Everton in hope the acquisition of the Premier League club is close.
The Financial Conduct Authority gave the green light to 777 Partners’ takeover, but the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test has stalled the sale.

777 Partners declined to comment.