John Gandel: Portsmouth’s new investor?

A man who actually has money to run a football club - John Gandel

If Internet messageboard rumours are to be true, John Gandel, an Australian billionaire, is set to become another investor in Portsmouth FC.

Ali Al Faraj, Portsmouth’s majority-share-holder, is willing to sell 35% of his stake of the club in order to bring new investment.

While Gandel is rumoured to invest, he is said to be purchasing only a small share of the 35% available. CEO Peter Storrie is attempting to sell the rest to investors in Hong Kong.

Four meetings have been held with potential investors from Hong Kong, adding extra substance to the rumour.

Gandel, 74-years-old, made much of his fortune in the real estate industry. Rumours suggest he is interested in building a new stadium while developing property around Portsmouth’s current stadium, Fratton Park.

Forbes ranked him as the 647th richest person in the world, as of 2009. He ranked #6 among Australia and New Zealand’s richest in 2007. He inherited much of his estate from his Polish-immigrant parents, building his own fortune in shopping centres.

Gandel held a 50% stake in an Israeli irrigation company, Plastro Irrigation Systems, in 2006. However, a year later he was forced to sell back these holdings after the majority owners of the company exercised a right they held. In 2008, they established themselves as the third largest agricultural irrigation company in the world.

During 2006, Gandel was awarded an honorary doctorate of philosophy from Tel Aviv University. It’s the university’s highest honour. He was awarded for his ‘business standing, broad leadership roles and philanthropic support in Australia and Israel.”

CEO Peter Storrie is currently in Australia for a personal engagement, the 50th birthday of his wife’s best friend. Storrie assured fans the trip was arranged half a year ago, before the true extent of Portsmouth’s financial situation was revealed.

According to The News, Storrie was meant to be holding talks with an ‘interested party in Melbourne later this week’. Could this be Gandel?

Evidence would suggest, yes it is! According to Forbes, Gandel owns half of Melbourne shopping mall, Chadstone, and a 17% stake in listed property trust that owns the other half. On a personal note, he is said to own Melbourne’s most expensive home. Unfortunately for Portsmouth, he’s known for a ‘distrust of debt’.

Chadstone Shopping Centre was the first shopping centre in Australia to have its total worth valued at over a$1bn, in 2007. This statistic made it the shopping centre in Australia with the highest annual turnover.

Compared to current owners, Sulaiman al Fahim and Ali Al Faraj, Gandel has enough personal wealth to outright buy the club. Fans can only hope Storrie is successful in his mission to sell the club to Gandel.

Gandel is a leading member of the Jewish community of Melbourne and is deeply involved in both business and community activities. He holds a number of links with Israel, questioning whether his potential involvement is the influence of super-agent Pini Zahavi.

Gandel’s family is involved in the Gandel Charitable Trust, originally founded in 1978, which together with the Gandel Foundation and the John & Pauline Gandel Charitable Trust, are the main vehicles for the Gandel family philanthropy. Pauline is Gandel’s wife, and together they have had four children. He is known for his generosity and commitment to both Jewish and general causes.

He has been Chairman of the Gandel Group of Companies since 1983, former Chairman, and former Director of the Gandel Retail Trust and former Chairman of Gandel Retail Management.

Gandel was honoured in 1990 for his services to business, commerce and industry, receiving an Officer of the Order of Australia. He has been instrumental in raising tens of millions of dollars for an unlimited amount of worthy causes.

He’s almost too good to be true, yet the same was first said of Al Fahim when he arrived too.

If Peter Storrie would like to restore any of the respect he held briefly, he can sign Gandel up to the Pompey cause.

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