SBD/Issue 102/Franchises

India's Mukesh Ambani Linked With Potential Liverpool Takeover

Indian Billionaire Seen As Possible Candidate
To Lead Takeover Of Liverpool
EPL club Liverpool last night "emerged as a takeover target for the seventh-richest man in the world," Reliance Industries Chair & Managing Dir Mukeshi Ambani, as the "pressure mounted" on Liverpool co-Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to sell the club, according to Power, Hughes & Kidd of the LONDON TIMES. Reliance Industries and Sahara Group Chair Subrata Roy have "each tendered similar bids to pay off" Liverpool's $369.3M (all figures U.S.) debt "in return for a 51[%] stake in the club." Liverpool Managing Dir Christian Purslow last night "denied any knowledge of either bid," but sources said that approaches "began as early as November and that some preliminary talks have taken place." Each deal "requires the present owners make a commitment to take no dividends or expenses out of Anfield for three years to allow the club to resume a secure financial basis." One of the potential owners has also "indicated a willingness to allow supporters to take" a 10% stake in Liverpool. However, a source close to Hicks and Gillett said that the two would "reject on principle any bid that left them with less than 50[%] of the club's shares unless it involved either of them selling out entirely." A source close to RBS, Liverpool's banker, said that there has been "plenty of interest in Liverpool from investors," though Hicks and Gillett are "blocking all deals on the table because they refuse to budge on price." The source added that the bank's stipulation that the owners must pay off $155.8M of debt and "inject tens of millions of pounds into the club was intended to push them to an agreement with a new investor that would permanently stabilise Liverpool's finances." Power, Hughes & Kidd note a "number of other potential bidders include a Saudi Arabian consortium and a United States-based buyer, who is prepared to pay the [$155.8M] required by the lenders in exchange for" 40% of the club (LONDON TIMES, 2/9). ESPN SOCCERNET notes Reliance has "firmly distanced itself from claims that a bid has been tabled." Reliance spokesperson Sudeep Purkayastha: "There is no truth to the report. We deny it completely" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 2/9).

BRINGING DOWN THE HAMMER: The London TELEGRAPH reports EPL club West Ham United players will be "asked to take a 25[%] pay cut by" new club co-Owners David Sullivan and David Gold. Sullivan "fears West Ham are heading for 'Armageddon' unless their dramatic measures are taken to reduce debts" of $171.4M, and he is "planning to make drastic reductions from the club's backroom staff, but his biggest fight will be trimming the club's wage bill." Sullivan: "I can't believe the contracts I've inherited. Every position is overpaid, whether in administration or on the playing side" (London TELEGRAPH, 2/9).

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