Liverpool 'up for sale again'

Representatives of the American owners of Liverpool Football Club are believed to be in the Middle East trying to sell it.

Gillett, left, and Hicks have appointed rival banks to try to find potential buyers.
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ABU DHABI // Representatives of the American owners of Liverpool Football Club are believed to be in the Middle East trying to sell it. Dubai International Capital (DIC) tried to buy the English Premier League club last summer, but eventually withdrew. There have been stories in the British media that a Kuwaiti business group was set to step in, but reports of talks about a possible takeover have been denied.

The Reds co-owner Tom Hicks had reportedly been speaking with Kuwait billionaire Nasser al Kharafi, who has a fortune estimated at £9bn (Dh45bn). But Kharafi Group vice president, Loay al Kharafi, has insisted no talks were held and that the reports were incorrect. The reign of Hicks and co-owner George Gillett, who value the club at around £550million (Dh758m), has been dogged by controversy since the £218m takeover in Feb 2007. They appear to be looking for new investors but the pair have appointed rival banks to try to find potential buyers - Merrill Lynch are on board with Hicks and Rothschilds with Gillett. They have been given an extra six months to repay a £350m loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia.

Hicks is believed to be looking to retain a stake in Liverpool, possibly as high as 25 per cent - believed to be one of the stumbling blocks in the DIC deal - as he views it as a lucrative long-term investment. Gillett, on the other hand, is understood to be ready to sell his stake in its entirety, having become increasingly disillusioned with life as a co-owner. However, the money they are asking is likely to put off any suitors and they probably need to drop their price.

sports@thenational.ae