Friday 23 March 2018

Hicks ready to give up share of Liverpool

Ian Herbert

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks' 11th-hour bid to hold onto his control of the club is understood to involve him offering a minority share to the global investment firm GSO Capital Partners, a subsidiary of the Blackstone group, and substantially reducing the underlying level of debt, which he needs to refinance imminently.

The Blackstone "equity rise" would, as Hicks envisages it, see the underlying level of debt reduced to around £100m. That would mean GSO committing £180m, with co-owner George Gillett apparently on the way out. As of last night, there was no confirmation that GSO is ready to go in with Hicks, with whom it has had a working relationship in the past; how much control GSO would want at Anfield; or whether new lenders would be needed to take on the remaining £100m debt when the terms of the current loans with the Royal Bank of Scotland expire on 8 October.

Ironically, the device Hicks seems to be using to hold on at Anfield is precisely the one that managing director Christian Purslow used in his attempt to reduce the club's debt earlier this year. But when the New York-based Rhône Group came in with a £110m offer for a 40pc share, with a demand that it have a meaningful say in the running of the club in return for that investment, Hicks dismissed it.

If Hicks wants to borrow from another source to refinance the £237m debt,it seems he would have to offer the club as security and there appears to be no question of Liverpool's non-executive chairman Martin Broughton, Purslow or commercial director Ian Ayre sanctioning that.

Hicks believes he can drive any such action through despite the stance of other board members, who are understood to have engaged legal firm Slaughter and May to assess their options.

Independent News Service

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