Game Up For Secretive Seppala's Mayfair Hedgie?

24 September 2013 02:10
KCIC Press Release

Under pressure Hedge Fund Sisu Capital boss Joy Seppala, will again be the focus of protests by angry football fans at her London office (W1K 6PL, Wednesday 25 September 4pm-6pm).

Questions are mounting about Seppala's judgement in buying failing football club Coventry City, the level of losses she is accruing and apparent lack of strategy.

Notoriously reclusive Seppala – there is no known publicly available photograph of her in existence - will not have been pleased to see her name appearing in a recent issue of Private Eye.

The magazine claimed investors in the SISU-managed ARVO Master Fund will "not have been impressed by the history of the Coventry City investment".

Nor will she be pleased with a raft of recent Parliamentary Early Day Motions raising questions about the involvement of several individuals and parties in the Coventry City affair including auditors BDO, Paul Appleton of David Rubin & Partners and Adam Bradley of Taylor Vinters, along with Seppala and her right hand man, Tim Fisher. Seppala has previously been described by a High Court Judge, in finding against SISU in a bitter and long-running battle with KPMG, as having "a distorted recollection of some events" and being "prone to exaggerate".

One Parliamentary motion has gone so far as to question "how assets assigned to CCFC Ltd were transferred elsewhere" and "whether there has been a conspiracy to defraud".

But it is the lack of strategy for stemming and recouping losses that will be most troubling for investors. Seppala has a reputation for playing hardball in the distressed-debt market so tactics such as simply stopping paying rent to Arena Coventry Limited, owners of the Ricoh Arena where Coventry City formerly played home games, and relocating the team to Northampton may be seen as par for the course.

But with a fans' boycott of Northampton meaning attendances are at a record low, cash losses for SISU grow week on week. SISU even talked of building a new football stadium but with repeated statements about identifying suitable sites yielding neither a land purchase nor planning application, many fans are openly ridiculing this.

There is speculation that distressing ACL may have been an option but this seems unlikely given that Coventry City Council has bought out ACL's mortgage - SISU  unsuccessfully sought a Judicial Review of the Council's action although the outcome of a subsequent appeal by SISU is awaited.

With Seppala's expertise in the distressed-debt market she may have a very different goal in sight but with allegations such as "conspiracy to defraud" being made, scrutiny of Seppala is intensifying.

Many are puzzled as to why when a number of consortia are keen to purchase Coventry, she does not save further losses and agree a sale.

Some fans even point out that with supporter-led ownership models becoming increasingly common, options are available for Seppala to recapture some of SISU's reputational losses by selling to a supporter-led consortium while exploring recouping losses against future profitability of Coventry City.

Fans from the Keep Cov in Cov campaign group have previously invited Seppala to join them for a pint at a neighbouring pub and this time will be setting up a table and chairs to offer a rather more genteel ‘Mayfair Afternoon Tea’ including a chair reserved for the SISU boss.

Whether Seppala continues to ignore campaigners’ requests for her to engage in talks remains to be seen. She has previously stated that: “I’m not one for publicity and I do not care what people — beyond my investors and my family — think of me”.

Given the anger of Coventry City fans that is perhaps no bad thing, but with the American-Finn increasingly in the public eye and her judgement and the modus operandi of herself and others being questioned, what her investors think is likely to be a growing concern. 

Source: Coventry MAD