American businessman to take 25% stake in Portugal’s Benfica

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — American businessman John Textor has reached an agreement to take a 25% stake in Benfica, the Portuguese club said late Tuesday.

The club told the Lisbon stock exchange it received notice of the agreement between Textor and a local shareholder to acquire the ownership stake.

Textor, a former leading shareholder of streaming service fuboTV, had publicly said he was considering buying shares of Portugal’s most successful club. He had said before the announcement that he hoped to help strengthen Benfica “for the benefit of its people.”

“I am attracted to Benfica because it is truly the people’s club,” he said on his website. “And it will always be the people’s club. Unlike any company or club with which I have had the pleasure to be associated, it was formed, is structured, and is run principally for the benefit of its community.”

He called Benfica “the sleeping giant of world football, the greatest developer of talent in its academies, with an unmatched opportunity to extend its mission and its brand to fast growing global audiences.”

The announcement came a few days after Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira was placed under house arrest while being investigated as part of “Operation Red Card” for alleged fraud, money laundering and tax fraud. The president denied wrongdoing and the club itself was not under investigation.

The Portuguese securities market commission temporarily suspended trading of Benfica shares on Tuesday because of possible “irregularities” that could affect the management of the club. The suspension was lifted about two hours later “due to information incorporated to the market.”

Former soccer star Rui Costa, who was a vice president, has taken over the running of the club. New presidential elections are expected to take place by the end of the year.

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