Thursday 18 January 2018

Liverpool hope two serious takeover offers will be tabled

Liverpool FC. Photo: Getty Images
Liverpool FC. Photo: Getty Images

Paul Kelso

The Liverpool board will meet to consider offers for the club on Thursday with club chairman Martin Broughton hoping at least two serious bids will finally be tabled. On Monday night it was unclear whether the club's American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, would attend.

Broughton has asked for fully-costed offers from bidders, with several facing a significant credibility gap. According to sources with knowledge of the sales process none of the bidders has yet provided proof of funds, and in some cases they have proved evasive when Barclays Capital (BarCap) have attempted to establish where funding may come from.

According to one source the bidders can be split into two camps: those who definitely have the funding to invest but may not wish to, and those who are desperate to get involved but have not yet shown they have the money.

In the first group is the Rhone Group, a New York-based investment house, and a Kuwaiti bid fronted by Rafed Al-Kharafi. Neither has made any public statement. The Indian finance and media giant Sahara India Pariwar said on Monday it would not bid for the club "for the time being".

In the second group are two bids that have made a great deal of noise without demonstrating they have the money to buy the club. Most prominent has been the Chinese bid headed by sports investor Kenneth Huang.

Huang's associates and public relations advisers insist that he is a serious bidder, but the last eight days have done little to endorse his credibility.

Denials, misinformation and confusion have clouded almost every aspect of the Huang bid, and if he does buy Liverpool their supporters better hope he runs the club more coherently than his bid.

Huang initially claimed to have the backing of China's sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC) but within 24 hours this was denied, and on Friday Huang's American business partner, Marc Ganis, conceded CIC was not a committed partner, would take only a maximum of 20pc of their consortium if it did invest, and may not put in any money at all.

Huang will not reveal who is funding the bid, but Ganis said no investor would control more than 20 per cent, meaning that at least five individuals or companies will have a say, which would have implications for the efficient management of the club.

The identity of these backers also remains a mystery to Broughton and BarCap. It is understood that attempts by BarCap to meet them or speak by telephone have failed.

There has been confusion too over the role of Huang's business partner Guang Yang, who initially denied he was involved via his US employer Franklin Templeton.

Huang's own credentials have come under scrutiny, though not via his QSL Sports website, which has been displaying the message 'Site Under Maintenance', since early last week.

The company has investments in Chinese basketball and baseball and a marketing agreement with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but suggestions QSL had a 15pc stake in the NBA outfit were quickly denied in the US.

Huang has secured a positive reception from the Liverpool fan base, however, and has arranged to meet the influential Spirit of Shankly group.

There is similar scepticism in the sales process over the bid launched by Yahya Kurdi, though it is not shared by the American owners, who consider the Syrian-Canadian's Middle Eastern-funded bid serious.

Kurdi's suggestion that he would meet the American's valuation of more than £500m, as well as doubts about the derivation of his finance, is the main source of scepticism.

Kurdi's is the only bid that appears to believe the Americans can expect a profit given this is a forced sale. Neither have his listed Canadian business interests, which include a pizza delivery store and an off-licence, built confidence in his ability to run Liverpool.

Kurdi, Huang and the rest have until Thursday to erase these doubts.

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport