Sunderland agree takeover deal with 22-year-old Louis-Dreyfus heir

  • Owner Stewart Donald to retain 15% of his shares
  • Director Juan Sartori part of new consortium
Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. The club are sixth in League One after 10 games of the 2020-21 season.
Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. The club are sixth in League One after 10 games of the 2020-21 season. Photograph: Iam Burn/News Images/REX/Shutterstock
Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. The club are sixth in League One after 10 games of the 2020-21 season. Photograph: Iam Burn/News Images/REX/Shutterstock
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Last modified on Sat 14 Nov 2020 04.23 EST

The Sunderland owner, Stewart Donald, has agreed a deal to sell the club to a consortium led by minority shareholder Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus – the 22-year-old son of former Marseille owner Robert – but looks set to retain 15% of his shares.

Donald has been actively trying to sell Sunderland since the start of the year and entered into an exclusivity period with an anonymous buyer a few weeks ago. The Guardian can reveal that Sartori – the Uruguayan businessman and politician who owns 20% of the club and sits on the board – is behind the move to bring in Louis-Dreyfus having made contact with him six months ago about the possibility of acquiring a majority stake.

It is understood that after months of due diligence and negotiations, the consortium made an offer two weeks ago to Donald which was accepted at the beginning of this week. Sources close to the deal expect it to be completed in the next fortnight.

Sunderland have declined to comment but cancelled a scheduled meeting with supporters’ groups on Thursday due to the “advancement and sensitivity” of takeover talks.

It is understood that Donald – who led the consortium that took over the club from the American businessman Ellis Short in April 2018 – was keen to retain a portion of his shares, and the former chief executive Charlie Methven will also keep hold of his 5% stake.

Along with his twin brother, Maurice, Louis-Dreyfus is one of three heirs to his father’s fortune after his death in 2009 and is estimated to have a trust fund worth more than £2bn that is held by his mother, Margarita. She remains a minority shareholder in Marseille.

Sunderland are sixth in League One after 10 games.