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Serbian billionaire, Dragan Solak, completes Southampton FC takeover in £100 million deal

Southampton Football Club revealed in a team statement that Sports Republic, led by Serbian millionaire Dragan Solak, had acquired a majority stake in the club.

The deal will bring an end to Chinese investor Gao Jisheng’s controlling ownership of the club, which he has been attempting to sell since 2017. Katharina Liebherr will retain her 20% minority stake in the club, the club stated.

According to Sky Sports, the contract between Gao Jisheng and Sport Republic, a sports and entertainment investment group, is worth £100 million.

Martin Semmens, CEO of Southampton Football Club, said,

“Today we welcome a new beginning with a new ownership group. We have found partners with ambition for the future, but with a clear understanding of what Southampton stands for and the direction we must go in now. The strategy is to push forward with the plans we have had in place over the last two years, but with their support we can now do this with a renewed focus and speed. Continuity, stability, and clarity of the way forward are equally as important as the new initiatives and ideas we can now bring to the club.”

“Everyone at Southampton welcomes Dragan, Henrik, Rasmus and the people within Sport Republic to our great club. We searched the world for good people with the ambition and resources to lead us into the next era and I am happy to confirm we have found them. We can’t wait to get started and be part of the future of Sport Republic,” he added.

Commenting on the agreement, the Lead Investor of Sport Republic, Dragan Šolak said, “My partners and I have experience in long-term investments in the sports and entertainment industry and Sport Republic has been founded to combine this expertise and deliver something unique to the market

“Southampton has so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation. It has a great management team, excellent talent development, talented teams playing attractive football and a dedicated fan base.”

“We are delighted to be able to complete this acquisition as a first step towards execution of our investment strategy. Southampton will be a cornerstone of the organisation we plan to build,” he added.

The Chairman of Sport Republic, Henrik Kraft, added, “Southampton’s CEO Martin Semmens will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the club, and Sport Republic will be working closely with him and his team to help the club grow.”

Who is Dragan Solak, exactly?

Dragan olak was born in 1964 and is the primary investor in Sport Republic. He is also the founder and chairman of United Group’s Advisory Board.

Olak has built and developed a number of other businesses, the first of which was the motion picture production and distribution company VANS, which he formed in 1990 with a group of friends and film aficionados.

The Serbian businessman started his telecoms company in 2000 and built it from a Serbian cable operator to a regional leader with operations in eight countries.

Olak is also an avid golfer who has been instrumental in the growth of the game in the Balkan region, now serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the worldwide golf group Eligo.

What is Sport Republic all about?

Sport Republic is a London-based sports and entertainment investment firm. Sport Republic’s vision is to apply proprietary intelligence and data analytics to assist sports businesses and sports technology companies in reaching their full potential. The company was founded by Henrik Kraft and Rasmus Ankersen and is backed by lead investor Dragan olak.

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Written by Babatunde Okerayi

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