By Ben Rumsby, PA Sport
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Liverpool's American owners have been in talks with Dubai International Capital, the investment arm of the emirate's government confirmed today.
The Anfield ownership battle has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months, with the future of Tom Hicks and George Gillett shrouded in uncertainty.
The US tycoons are believed to have suffered a breakdown in their relationship since taking over Liverpool last year, with reports today indicating Hicks is preparing to buy out his co-owner.
DIC chief executive Sameer al-Ansari, a lifelong Reds fan, revealed investment talks had been ongoing but were being held up by the valuation
of the club by one of Hicks or Gillett.
"It's no secret that we have been in discussions with the current owners," said al-Ansari on www.skysports.com.
"It's not easy because the owners are in dreamland about valuations at the moment."
Al-Ansari later clarified that one of the club's owners "had come out of dreamland", without giving further details.
Only last week, Texan billionaire Hicks insisted he was not planning to sell his stake in the club, denying reports he had invited DIC to inspect the club's accounts in preparation for a takeover.
Frustrated by Hicks' stance, DIC turned their attention to Gillett, who is thought to be much keener on a sale than his partner.
However, neither of the co-owners is able to cut and run without the other's consent, a point Hicks was at pains to make last week when he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Not only am I not going to sell, my partner cannot sell without my approval."
Also, DIC are thought to want a controlling stake at Anfield, meaning they would need to convince Hicks to relinquish part of his 50% of the club as well as buying out Gillett.
It appears clear the main problem preventing a takeover is the price DIC, the investment arm of the Maktoum royal family, are willing to pay.
It has been nowhere near the amount of money Hicks has been asking for - he would want to make a substantial sum out of selling the club.
Another hurdle to overcome is that the refinancing package announced on January 25 has loaded £105million of debt on to the club.
Of that, £60million is earmarked to kick-start the new stadium development plus £45million for future player transfers and to meet the club's working capital needs.
The takeover talk is being driven by the refinancing deal, believed to only lasts for 18 months, and so Hicks and Gillett are soon going to have to start renegotiating the debts.
Furthermore, they are shortly going to have to go back to the banks to ask for a further £300million in loans to finance the rest of the new stadium at Stanley Park.