Pompey In Talks With Russian Investors

Last updated : 08 February 2011 By Jim Bonner
David Lampitt has confirmed that he has held discussions with two possible Russian investors that want to take over Portsmouth Football Club.

The two men in question are Roman Dubov and his business partner Vladimir Antonov, but who are these men?

Both men are tied to Conver Sports Initiatives (CSI), an investment company that is owned by Dubov with Antonov taking the chairman's role. CSI also has a third co-owner, Chris Akers, who is a former C.E.O of Leeds United.

Akers claims that his group are very interested in football and want to acquire control of a football club.

He also says that should they be successful with a takeover, they will dedicate all of their knowledge and resources into making their football club successful.

However, CSI has already attempted to take over Bournemouth only to be rejected by their chairman, Eddie Mitchell three times and Akers was also behind a failed takeover bid for Glasgow Rangers.

Vladimir Antonov is reported to be worth £200 million which sounds very attractive at first glance, but do a little digging into his background and you see the reasons why Bournemouth and Rangers might have rejected the offers from his company.

Antonov is the largest shareholder and chairman of Lithuanian bank, Bankas Snoras. In 2007, Bankas Snoras bought a 29.9% share of Dutch car manufacturer Spyker, making Antonov the biggest shareholder of that company too.

In January last year, General Motors were prepared to sell Saab to Spyker for a nominal fee but an investigation by Swedish monetary authorities and police allegedly found that Antonov had links to organised crime and money laundering.

These findings were reported to the FBI who then prompted General Motors to pull out of the deal until the Antonov family sold their shares in Spyker, which they did to allow the deal to be completed.

It is also reported that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) refused Bankas Snoras a UK operating license in 2008 after the regulators stated that the company had given them "misleading and incomplete answers" to them.

The FSA also added that Antonov's "failures are not an isolated instance but are examples of an ongoing pattern of behaviour by institutions controlled by Mr Antonov."

If your eyebrow has been raised by these allegations of corruption, then you'll also be interested to know that Vladimir's father, Alexander, has reportedly been the subject of at least two assassination attempts.

It seems like Antonov could be similar to Gaydamak and it wouldn't be surprising if the two men happened to be linked in some way. However, I should stress that Vladimir was furious at these allegations of corruption and money laundering and hired an investigative firm to prove his innocence.

And in December 2010, two reports, one of which was commissioned by the Swedish government, could find no evidence that Antonov was guilty of any of the accusations aimed at him.

So, who knows what sort of character Portsmouth FC has potentially attracted to it? It has a habit of interesting alleged "dubious" characters, so this is just another day of the life of this jolly old football club.

I think we may be hearing more about Vladimir Antonov and his pals in the future, but it may well be to simply rule CSI out of buying the club like Rob Lloyd and Tom Lever before them.

Which will mean that Pompey will be stuck with Chainrai and Kushnir. The current owners have "promised" a "couple" of emergency loan signings now that the loan window has opened.

We shall soon see if those promises are kept...