SBD/September 21, 2010/Franchises

Blackstone Will Not Offer Funding To Tom Hicks For Liverpool

Tom Hicks (r) Left Looking For Funding Partner With Blackstone Not Offering Financial Support
Blackstone Group officials yesterday said that the private equity firm "would not offer any funding to Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks, apparently dealing a blow to his hopes of buying out the club's debt with Royal Bank of Scotland to extend his control at Anfield," according to Kelso & Smith of the London TELEGRAPH. Blackstone sources said that they "had pulled out of discussions with Hicks in August." They acknowledged that talks "had taken place but said they would not be part of any deal moving forward." The announcement leaves Liverpool "in a familiar limbo." Hicks and co-Owner George Gillett's loans from RBS and Wells Fargo, worth US$370M plus an estimated US$62M, "expire in early October." With Liverpool Chair Martin Broughton and Barclays Capital "having failed to find a suitable buyer willing to meet the Americans' price expectations, the onus is on the owners or the banks to find a way forward." Hicks and Gillett "could yet return with the money to buy out the banks but will face opposition from the board." The impasse "has increased frustration among supporters, who are planning a sit-in protest at Anfield following" Saturday's game against Sunderland, as well as a "march against Hicks and Gillett" before the Oct. 3 match against Blackpool (London TELEGRAPH, 9/21). The AP's Rob Harris reported Hicks "had hoped to secure" a US$435M financing package from Blackstone subsidiary GSO Capital Partners and "share control of the club, in a move that would have prevented a quick sale" of Liverpool (AP, 9/20). In London, Ian Herbert writes the "news of GSO's removal from the picture will not come as any disappointment to" Broughton, who was "appointed in April as one of Royal Bank of Scotland's conditions for extending its loan to the Americans for a further six months and who does not savour the idea of Hicks staying on at Liverpool under any circumstances" (London INDEPENDENT, 9/21).
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