From doctored photos to plans to sign Cristiano Ronaldo: What S'pore registered firm in Newcastle United bid has said so far

Above: A publicity picture distributed by Bellagraph Nova Group that purports to show owners Terence Loh (from left), Evangeline Shen and Nelson Loh meeting former United States president Barack Obama at a private meeting in Paris. Right: In reality,
A publicity picture distributed by Bellagraph Nova Group that purports to show owners Terence Loh (from left), Evangeline Shen and Nelson Loh meeting former United States president Barack Obama at a private meeting in Paris.PHOTOS: BELLAGRAPH NOVA GROUP

TAKEOVER BID

On Aug 15, British newspaper Shields Gazette first reported that the Bellagraph Nova Group (BN Group) had put in a takeover bid for Newcastle United Football Club.

A press statement issued by the group said it has "sent a LOI (letter of intent) and a POF (proof of funds) to Mr (Mike) Ashley on Aug 10 and our negotiations are at the advanced stage".

Mr Ashley is the owner of Newcastle United.

The group listed its co-founders as Singaporeans Terence Loh and Nelson Loh, as well as Ms Evangeline Shen.

The news was confirmed by Sky Sports journalist Keith Downie who tweeted: "Still big question marks regarding Bellagraph Nova's claims they've bid £280m (S$503 million) to buy Newcastle United. I'm always sceptical of anything that's made public so freely and quickly. But Mike Ashley's lawyers have held talks with BN, and I've seen documentation that supports their claims. The docs contain £280m offer, letter of intent, and 29-page document with detailed financials."

DOCTORED PHOTOS

On its website, the BN Group has posted pictures of the Loh cousins and Ms Shen with former United States president Barack Obama. The photos made it seem like they were taken at a private meeting in Paris.

The pictures with Mr Obama were in fact taken in Singapore at a Dec 14 charity event, which Novena Global Lifecare - founded by the cousins - sponsored.


In reality, the photo of Mr Obama was taken at a Dec 14 charity event in Singapore sponsored by Novena Global Lifecare, founded by cousins Terence and Nelson Loh. PHOTO: BELLAGRAPH NOVA GROUP

Reuters reported that BN Group chief marketing and investor relations officer Nereides Antonio Giamundo de Bourbon acknowledged that the group had manipulated the images in materials used to publicise the group.

He was reported as saying: "We are serious people... the only ambiguous thing has been the photoshopped picture.

"There wasn't any malicious aim behind it."


The photograph believed to be the original version (left) does not have the company name and logo, and also does not show Mr Terence Loh to Mr Obama's left. PHOTOS: BELLAGRAPH NOVA GROUP

ALAN SHEARER'S BACKING

In a media statement last week, the BN Group said it had enlisted the help of former England captain Alan Shearer and former player Michael Chopra to support its takeover bid.

British paper The Telegraph reported that "sources close to the Newcastle and Premier League legend (Shearer)... denied any involvement with BNG".

Former Magpies striker Chopra, however, did visit the group's Paris headquarters, based on a picture he tweeted.

PARIS HEADQUARTERS

The BN Group states on its website that its new headquarters is at the "renowned No. 10 Place Vendome in Paris, France". This is where the Ritz Hotel and high-end boutiques are located.

 In reality,
Place Vendome in Paris. PHOTO: REUTERS

Reuters reported yesterday that there is no company called Bellagraph Nova Group registered in France.

Its reporter also could not find any company of the same name at the address. It added that "a receptionist at an office rental business operated by Regus in the building said BN Group has used its space, but its staff were not always present".

 In reality,
Bellagraph Nova Group’s Instagram post that says “with our world record number of private jets for a single entity, our over 10,000 private jets are ready to take you anywhere you wish to go with an unprecedented experience onboard”. The post was later edited to remove the mention of the number of private jets at its disposal. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

OVER 10,000 JETS

A post on the @bellagraphnovagroup Instagram account said "with our world record number of private jets for a single entity, our over 10,000 private jets are ready to take you anywhere you wish to go with an unprecedented experience on board".

No information or booking function is available on the website of Dorr Group Private Jet Chartering, one of BN Group's entities.

The Instagram post was later edited to remove the mention of the number of private jets at its disposal.

 

Asked how interested parties could book a flight from them, a BN Group representative responded to The Sunday Times last night and said: "To book a private jet, clients will reach out to us through our partners or our sales agents. If you wish to book one, we'll have one of our agents speak to you."

 
 

CRISTIANO RONALDO

Mr de Bourbon reportedly told The Telegraph that the group planned to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and said it was in "direct contact" with the Juventus superstar.

A source close to the player told The Sunday Times that he had not heard of such contact.

HYDRA X

Financial technology firm Hydra X is listed as one of BN Group's more than 30 entities, and it is supposed to be implementing a trading system for the Singapore Exchange, according to a marketing brief the group sent to the media earlier.

Reuters reported that Hydra X and the exchange denied this.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2020, with the headline 'What the group has said'. Subscribe