SBD/Issue 126/Franchises

N.Y Investment Group Makes Offer For Majority Stake In Liverpool

Rhône Group Seeking To Acquire 40% Majority
Stake In Liverpool For About US$165.45M

N.Y.-based investment firm Rhône Group has made an "official proposal" to acquire part of EPL club Liverpool from co-Owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, becoming the "first of several interested parties to declare its hand," according to Tony Barrett of the LONDON TIMES. Rhône has "been in talks with Liverpool for several weeks" and made an offer "in the early hours of Saturday morning, with Rhône seeking to acquire" a 40% majority stake in the club for about US$165.45M. Gillett and Hicks are "known to be reluctant to accept the offer from Rhône," but they "could be forced into doing a deal that would significantly dilute their shareholding." Gillett and Hicks owe Royal Bank of Scotland US$365.5M, and the bank is "demanding that this debt is cut" by about US$150.46M by this July (LONDON TIMES, 3/15). In London, Rory Smith notes Rhône is one of at least six "potential investors vying to take a majority stake" in the EPL club. Liverpool officials "remain hopeful of receiving a number of competing offers before the Easter deadline" set by club Managing Dir Christian Purslow (London TELEGRAPH, 3/15).

JOINING THE ATTACK: In London, Lawrie Holmes reports Manchester United is "being eyed up by a second potential acquirer, competing with the Red Knights consortium." The group was "thought to have been preparing a bid" worth about US$1.8B before the Red Knights group "revealed its interest." Sources indicated that the "emergence of a second party, thought to be a single entity rather than a consortium, has raised the Glazers' valuation of the club" to at least US$2.4B (London TELEGRAPH, 3/14).

NEXT IN LINE: In London, Kelso & Smith reported EPL club Portsmouth is "on the brink" of having its fifth owner this season, with U.K. real estate tycoon Rob Lloyd "fronting a consortium" intending to buy the club. Lloyd today hopes to enter into "confidential and exclusive arrangements" with the club's administrator, Andrew Andronikou, ahead of a potential US$45M buyout. If Lloyd's takeover is approved by the EPL, he will become Chair, backed by a consortium that includes a N.Y. hedge fund (London TELEGRAPH, 3/14).

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