Randolph D. Lerner (born February 21, 1962 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American entrepreneur and sports team owner. Lerner has been the owner of the American football team, the Cleveland Browns, of the National Football League (NFL) since October 2002, and the Chairman of Aston Villa Football Club of the Premier League since 2006. His personal fortune is estimated at USD over 1.5 billion in 2008. Lerner graduated from Columbia University in 1984, spending 1983 at Clare College in Cambridge, England. He graduated from Columbia Law School and is a member of the New York and District of Columbia Bar Associations. Prior to entering the business world, he worked as a lawyer in New York City.
Business history Edit
Lerner's business career began at the Progressive Corporation as an investment analyst. In 1991, he started an independent investment firm with Progressive capital called Securities Advisors, Inc. (SAI), which he owned and managed until 2001. SAI initially specialized in arbitrage before shifting its focus to equity investing. His father Al Lerner became chairman of MBNA Corporation investing 800 million of his own money in the initial public offering (IPO) of the corporation. In 1993, Randy became a director at MBNA. Upon the death of his father on October 23, 2002, Randy became company chairman. He was involved in the sale of MBNA Corporation on January 1, 2006 to Bank of America for $35 billion.
Cleveland Browns Edit
Control of the Browns was given to Lerner, when his father, Al Lerner, died in October 2002 - four years to the day after he was awarded the new Browns franchise. He also serves as a member of the National Football League's Business Ventures Committee. Lerner has generally been a low key owner since assuming control of the franchise.
Aston Villa Edit
During his time at Cambridge, Lerner followed English football, taking an interest in three teams: Arsenal, Fulham and Aston Villa. Although he had grown up in the United States, with a father who had been involved with the Cleveland Browns franchise under Art Modell, Lerner's interest in England's top flight endured long after he had returned to the States. On July 24, 2006 it was reported that Randy Lerner intended to purchase English Premiership club Aston Villa following a statement from Cleveland Browns management indicating Lerner was pursuing business interests in the United Kingdom. Lerner pulled out of the bid to buy Aston Villa two days later after talks with the club chairman Doug Ellis broke down but the following day reports emerged that Lerner might still make a formal £64 million bid for the club. On August 14, 2006 it was confirmed that Lerner had reached an agreement of £62.6 million with Aston Villa for a takeover of the club. The statement to the London Stock Exchange confirmed that 60% of the club's shares, including the 39% stake of Doug Ellis had been sold to Lerner, beating competition from consortia led by Michael Neville, Nicholas Padfield QC, and Athole Still. At this stage, the sale still awaited the approval of the shareholders of Aston Villa, although it was expected to be approved without a hitch. On August 25, the LSE announced that Lerner had secured 59.69% of Villa shares, making him the majority shareholder. He also appointed himself Chairman of the club. The BBC reported on September 5, 2006 that Lerner had now moved closer to taking full control of the club, after increasing his share to 85.5%. By the time that the September 18 1pm deadline had been reached RAL had acceptance of 89.69% of the share. Due to the acceptance only being 0.31% below the conditional limit, RAL accepted it and made the bid unconditional. On September 19, 2006 Aston Villa PLC executive Chairman Doug Ellis and his board resigned, to be replaced by Randy Lerner as Chairman and General Charles C. Krulak, Bob Kain and Michael Martin as non-executive directors. At the close of the deal in 2006, Lerner became the second American owner of a Premiership club.