An investment firm, backed by Serbian billionaire Dragan Solak, has completed a £100m takeover of Southampton

The Premier League club confirmed Sport Republic, owned by Serbian billionaire Dragan Solak has bought Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng’s 80% stake.

Gao took over Southampton in August 2017, with Katharina Liebherr, who inherited the club from her late father Markus in 2010 when they were in League One, retaining 20%.

Liebherr will continue to own her minority stake in the new deal.

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Southampton are 14th in the Premier League, after being promoted to the top flight in 2012.

Solak is chairman and founder of the United Group media company, while Southampton say Sport Republic is “an investment firm in the sports and entertainment industry”.

The club’s chief executive Martin Semmens says they have found suitable investors after being on something like a “dating process”.

“It is a pivotal moment in time,” he told BBC Radio Solent.

“We have reorganised our plan and set out our path and Sport Republic were the right group to take that forward as they have the same values and beliefs as us.

“It’s a bit like being on a dating process and we had to make sure we chose the right partner. Sometimes you need to go on a lot of dates to find the right partner and I think we have done that now.

“There is a lot of wealth and rich people on the market and it can be unsettling. There are also lots of people who want to get involved in football but don’t have the right resources.

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“First and foremost, we were looking for good people and experienced investors – and we have found that.”

Solak says Southampton will be the “cornerstone” of his organisation.

“Southampton has so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation,” he added in a statement.

“It has a great management team, excellent talent development, talented teams playing attractive football and a dedicated fan base.

“We are delighted to be able to complete this acquisition as a first step towards execution of our investment strategy.

“Southampton will be a cornerstone of the organisation we plan to build.”

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