Liverpool owners reject DIC

The American duo knock back a $800 million bid for the English Premier League club.

    George Gillett (L) and Tom Hicks: Staying put
    Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. have rejected Dubai International Capital's $800 million bid for the Premier League club.

    Reports suggest Hicks "turned down their offer immediately upon receipt”, with a source adding the Texan is still willing to allow Gillett to sell 49 percent of his stake as long as Hicks gets the other 1 percent.

    The Hicks camp doesn't believe DIC will be successful in buying the 49 percent, reflecting DIC's insistence that its bid is reliant on being the majority stake-holder.

    Part of their ownership structure allows Hicks and Gillett to block the other from selling.

    The DIC bid was built on the investment company gaining control.

    Gillett, whose relationship with Hicks has reportedly broken down, believes the private-equity investment arm of the Dubai government underestimated the value of his 50 percent stake.

    Sources within DIC had reported that they had given the Americans 24 hours to accept its offer.

    Gillett has been in close contact with DIC in recent weeks after deciding to end his troubled spell at Anfield.

    Hicks, however, has said he is committed to retaining his share of Liverpool.

    The Texan is also looking into buying all or part of Gillett's equal stake by raising private equity.


    The DIC bid emerged after chief executive Sameer al-Ansari said Monday that Hicks and Gillett had "come out of dreamland'' over the worth of the Premier League club.

    Hicks revealed in January that he had spoken to DIC about a "10 to 15 percent participation'' but that his valuation was deemed to be too high.

    Since then, however, Hicks has said he is committed to retaining his share of Liverpool and he anticipates taking a "more active role'' with the 18-time English champions.

    JP Morgan Chase & Co. have been tasked with raising funds by trying to attract market interest in new shares in the Hicks Sports Group, which includes his U.S. sports franchises.

    Uncertainty in the global markets prevented the investment bankers in January from attracting interest in a private placement.

    But they have been back at Anfield in recent weeks to update the figures to facilitate Hicks raising the funds to take sole control of the club.

    Spanish striker Fernando Torres arrived thanks
    to American money [AFP]
    Hicks and Gillett bought Liverpool for $431 million in March 2007.

    This included an agreement to pay off about $89 million of debt and a pledge to build and finance a new stadium.

    Gillett and Hicks refinanced their Liverpool deal with a $682 million package from two banks on January 25.

    But the package left the club with debt of $205 million.

    From friends to foe

    Liverpool fans originally embraced the American owners but then turned on them after their public feud with popular manager Rafa Benitez over transfers, leading to demonstrations outside and inside Anfield.

    Since peace talks were held in December, Benitez now speaks warmly about Hicks, who sends the Spaniard motivational e-mails.

    But captain Steven Gerrard has blamed the uncertainty off the field for the team's failure to end an 18-year wait for an English title.

    The Reds trail Arsenal by 15 points and are now battling fourth-place Everton for the final Champions League berth, but they are in a good position to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals after a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan in the first leg.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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