Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud has confirmed interest in buying up to half of football club Liverpool in a deal worth up to $560 million that would mark the latest buy-in by Gulf investors in an English Premier League team.
|The buyout would raise Liverpool's profile in the Middle East [GALLO/GETTY]
The prince has begun negotiations to buy out the 50 percent share of Liverpool held by co-owner George Gillett Jr, and is carrying out due diligence, going through Liverpool's accounts, with a view to buying all or part of Gillett's share through his sports investment firm F6.
He has been given a period of exclusivity of several months in terms of negotiating with Gillett, F6 director Barry Didato told AP.
"The prince is looking to buy anywhere from 0 to 100 percent (of Liverpool), but he doesn't need to have a controlling interest,'' said Didato, director of strategic investment at F6.
"At the moment he is only working with George Gillett and I'd certainly think it would have happened by the end of this year.''
Gillett would not be able to act independently of co-owner Tom Hicks and sell his 50 percent stake without the permission of the Texan.
However, Hicks would be willing to allow 25 percent of the club to be sold, an executive familiar with the situation said on Sunday.
The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the club is not discussing
the situation publicly.
Prince Faisal, along with Didato, was at Anfield on Saturday to see Liverpool thrash Hull 6-1 when the deal with Gillett was signed. That agreement will also see the prince and Gillett explore building football academies and rolling out NASCAR motorsport in the Middle East.
|Portsmouth owner Al Fahim is the latest of Gulf investors in the EPL [GALLO/GETTY]
If Prince Faisal was to acquire a stake in Liverpool, it would mark the latest investment in football by investors from the oil-rich Gulf region.
Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, bought Manchester City for around $336 million.
The team has spent more than $300 million on new players since Sheik Mansour took over, raising hopes that the long underachieving club could move up in the Premier League and grab a spot in the Champions League.
Sulaiman al-Fahim, the Emirati businessman who helped broker the Manchester City takeover for Sheik Mansour, has also taken control of his own Premier League team - Portsmouth.
Al-Fahim said he completed his takeover of the club last month, though not before the team was forced to sell several players to meet debt payments.
Al-Fahim formerly headed an Abu Dhabi property company and hosted an "Apprentice'' style reality show in the Middle East.
Also, Dubai's Emirates airline significantly boosted its name recognition in the Britain by negotiating a multi-year deal in 2004 worth more than $160 million to attach its name to Premier League club Arsenal's stadium.
The company's ties with the club were strengthened earlier this year when Arsenal opened a football academy in Dubai.