Jumat, 06 Agustus 2010

Liverpool FC: Asian owners?

News out of Liverpool says that Liverpool Football Club will have to be sold in the next four to six weeks. And why so? Simply as the banks involved in the deal and those who have lend money to the club plus their American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks want surety on where the club is moving in the future.

There are said to be six international bidders with a chance to buy the club. And it looks likely that an Asian bidder could win the race to buy one of the most iconic clubs of world football. But whoever buys Liverpool FC will have to shell out a substantial amount of money plus also invest a hefty sum in a new stadium and recruit players with which the club can challenge for the Premier League title and the crown of the UEFA Champions League.

The Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays Capital are looking after the sale of the Reds with the clubs new chief executive Martin Broughton, a former British Airways chief, looking after the clubs interest in any potential deal. And time is an issue not only for the current American owners to move out, but also for coach Roy Hodgson to have money to spend in the transfer market before it closes on August 31.

But who are the supposed bidders?

The top candidate at the moment for many analysts and pundits is said to be Hongkong-based businessman Kenny Huang, who is said to have the support of China's largest sovereign fund "China Investment Corporation". Some actually say the Chinese government is indirectly pushing Huang to bid and buy the Reds. At least colour wise China and Liverpool FC are on the same line.

The other prominent bidder to have gone public is Syrian born Yahya Kirdi now settled in Canada. Kirdi is a former footballer himself and is said to have financially strong Middle Eastern backers to give the club financial stability. But his closeness to Gillett's son Foster might be a deterrent.

And one Indian name which is being mentioned once in a while, but it does come back again and again is that of Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani. Any interest from Ambani senior has been denied by RIL repeatedly in the past, but that wouldn't be a deterrent. In the past there is said to have been negotiations between the American owners and Ambani about a minority share holding stake, but now the whole club is on sale. A new scenario has emerged and maybe something for Ambani to cash in on. And then we would finally have an Indian owner of a top English Premier League club.

Another Indian businessman who is being linked with Liverpool FC is Sahara Parivar chairman Subroto Roy. People close to Roy have internally said that Sahara has had talks with Liverpool FC, but their asking price would have to come down substantially due to the high debts of over 350 Million Pounds.

The other bidders are said to include Rafed Al-Kharafi, nephew of the Kuwait-based billionaire industrialist Nasser Al-Kharafi; and the Rhône private equity group based in the United States.

But which way the new ownership of Liverpool FC will go is not clear. The only thing that one can say for sure is that Reds fans will be happy once their American owners move out. And they will hope for better investors, who have the deeper pockets to support and strengthen the club. Otherwise this current nightmare could continue for a while...

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