26 February 2008

Liverpool's American owners set to sell

Oliver Kay Times Online EXCLUSIVE

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, Liverpool’s American owners, are preparing to signal the beginning of the end of their regime at Anfield by granting Dubai International Capital (DIC) permission to examine the club’s accounts with a view to making an official takeover bid next month.
Hicks has consistently claimed that he has no intention of selling his 50 per cent stake in the club, but, while he plans to retain some of his shares and some of his influence at Anfield for the immediate future, face-to-face discussions with DIC officials in Dubai and, more significantly, London last week have brought a deal closer.
Although a final agreement is understood to be some weeks away, with the Americans eager to maximise their profits after a turbulent 12 months in control, sources in the United States have indicated that they are ready to demonstrate their willingness to sell by granting a period of due diligence to DIC, the private-equity investment arm of the Dubai Government.
Gillett, whose involvement with the club is now minimal, is expected to be the first to sell his 50 per cent stake, possibly by the middle of next month. Hicks is likely to sell only part of his stake initially, leaving DIC in majority control of the club but retaining some interest and his place on the board, at least in the short term.
Hicks’s abrasive manner means that he is regarded as the most likely obstacle to any deal being completed, but discussions are said to be progressing “sensibly and professionally”, albeit slowly. Although Hicks could, in theory, buy Gillett’s stake in order to strengthen his own bargaining position, that is thought to be unlikely.
For now, no price has been agreed between DIC and either of the co-chairmen. The Americans, whose initial takeover just over 12 months ago was valued at £218.9 million, now put the club’s worth at more than £400 million, but £350 million of that figure would be swallowed by the debts incurred as a result of their recent refinancing deal. DIC would be reluctant to meet that valuation if, as remains the case, Liverpool are in danger of missing out on qualification for next season’s Champions League and the associated riches.
DIC’s plans for Liverpool are not yet clear beyond its eagerness to conduct a wide-ranging review of all departments of the club, but its arrival would be greeted enthusiastically by many supporters.
Welcomed by some as saviours in February last year, the Americans have attracted hostility not only by taking the club into debt — something that they pledged they would not do — but also by their treatment of Rafael Benítez, the manager, having held talks with Jürgen Klinsmann, the former Germany coach, about replacing him. There was also the embarrassment over their grandiose designs for a new stadium, which were unveiled amid fanfare in July only to be dropped owing to spiralling costs less than five months later.
Tom Hicks Jr, who was invited to join his father on the board, was confronted angrily by some supporters when he visited a pub near Anfield on Saturday. He claimed yesterday that he “had several constructive conversations” during his visit and that he hoped to “follow up with them next time I am in Liverpool”.
By contrast, Gillett’s son, Foster, who was initially dispatched to Merseyside to liaise between Benítez and the owners, has spent the past month in Montreal, apparently with no plans to return. Benítez has attempted to build bridges with Hicks in the meantime, but now it seems that power at Anfield is about to be transferred to Dubai.
utusanLFC : this story which appeared in The Times today... didn't quote anybody and heavily slanting on SPECULATION. But lets pray DIC will nick it sooner or later.

No comments:



The GOLDEN Team of Kenny Daglish

The GOLDEN Team of Kenny Daglish
If we have them now, say farewell to Arsenal, Man.U and Chelsea... if...