Cardiff City Football Club is close to completing a “drastic” financial restructuring that will secure the Bluebirds’ long-term survival and underpin the club’s push to bring Premiership football to Wales.

The proposals include a £53m stadium development and a debt-for-equity swap that would see existing shareholders, including Sam Hammam, heavily diluted.

Peter Ridsdale (right), the former Leeds United chief recently installed as Cardiff chairman, is confident of getting a green light for both parts of the plan by the end of the year.

Under the swap proposals, institutional investors – as yet unidentified – would inject £12m in return for a dominant 90 per cent stake in the club, which is now standing second in the Championship.

Some £3m of this would be used as working capital, with the remaining £9m paying off part of the club’s £24m debt. This consists mainly of loan notes held by creditors so mysterious that even Ridsdale has “no idea” who they are.

He said the club was currently in discussions with six potential investors. He was “hoping to have this completed before the end of the calendar year”.

Ridsdale said loan-note holders would also write down a further £9m of debt in return for naming rights to the new stadium that the club hopes to move into in December 2008.

The club would put up about £16m, or 30 per cent, of the funding for this long-awaited project, which would also incorporate a new athletics stadium and an indoor football facility.

Ridsdale said that the club’s contribution would come from three sources: the sale of its existing Ninian Park ground; a grant from the Football Foundation; and the £9m securitisation of “five years’ worth of premium seats in the new stadium”.

He hopes for “sign-off” by the executive committee of the local council, which he said was contributing the remaining 70 per cent of funding, on December 14.

From that point, he was “very optimistic” that all involved would be able to start “looking forward and not over our shoulders”.

Ridsdale indicated that in the longer term both a flotation and the acquisition of a significant stake by local community interests were possible. “This is one of the few clubs that is still potentially floatable.”

The golden years

Matthew Thorne will retire next April after nearly 13 years as finance director of McCarthy & Stone, which is being taken private in a £1bn-plus takeover.

At 54, Thorne is not ready for one of the builder’s retirement flats, although – since he will take away nearly £6m before tax in the value of shares and options and his severance package – that choice would be open to him.

No hard feelings

Peter Hambro is understandably a little perturbed by the awakening of the Russian government’s environmental watchdog, which has threatened to revoke some of his company’s gold mining licences there.

This has not, however, dampened Hambro’s enthusiasm for Russian culture. The mining entrepreneur is hosting Christmas drinks at Somerset House later this month to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Moscow Kremlin Armoury Museum with an exhibition of the English silver at the court of the tsars.

The evening is hosted in conjunction with the World Monuments fund, which raises money to restore historic buildings.

In fact, Hambro has donated some of the gold produced from his Russian mines to the restoration of Catherine the Great’s Chinese palace outside St Petersburg, which was where the German-born Russian leader did her entertaining.

Green with envy

Sailing yachts in the 40-to-49-foot class may not excite jealousy among the likes of Roman Abramovich, but with a price tag of at least £150,000, not every City bonus will run to one.

Envy will only get worse, however, if owners begin to brag about how green they are. Yachts of that size are an early target market for a fuel cell auxiliary power unit (APU) being developed by Voller Energy Group.

The Aim-listed company said that using a widely available fuel such as Calor Gas, its APU would produce only a 60th of the emissions of a diesel generator.

Something Fish-E

The National Audit Office’s recent report on public sector IT projects that did work, on time and to budget, was a welcome compliment for SciSys, the software company that developed an online fishing rod permit system for the Environment Agency.

Friends in the north

Gordon Chapman, chief executive of Newcastle-based pipeline company Wellstream International, was telling fellow Tynesiders recently about a bankers’ event he had attended in Aberdeen.

In words that Mudlark hopes don’t come back to haunt him when the next North Sea contract is up for grabs, Chapman recalled: “I never knew they made wine glasses that small.”

mudlark@ft.com

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