Sport Soccer

Friday 23 March 2018

Liverpool suitor Yahya Kirdi wants buy-out finalised by start of Premier League season


Paul Kelso

Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi is pressing to secure the purchase of Liverpool before the start of the Premier League season, and is hoping to hold face-to-face talks with Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton and owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks next week.

Kirdi’s proposal has been overshadowed this week by Kenneth Huang’s Chinese government-backed bid for the club, but on Wednesday Kurdi announced he was in advanced negotiations with Hicks and Gillett and had agreed a price.

Last night the Canadian broker handling negotiations said they were pressing for a swift conclusion to the deal. Kurdi is negotiating directly with the American owners rather than Broughton and BarCap, engaged in April at the insistence of RBS to oversee the sale of the club.

Dan Diamond, a partner in Gameday, the Canadian management consultancy working for Kurdi, told the Daily Telegraph overnight that one of his partners has already met with Broughton and they will press to seal a deal in the next ten days.

“Our target is to have our investors come to the opening game of the season on knowing that they have a deal,” he said.

“One of our partners has already met with Martin Broughton and if we proceed to the next stage of this negotiation our plan is to bring together Mr Kurdi, his investors, together with Tom Hicks and George Gillett and Martin Broughton, to execute the final purchase agreement and allow Martin to conduct his own ‘sniff test’ on the deal.”

Diamond, who is familiar with Hicks and Gillett through their former NHL ice hockey franchises, said if the meeting goes ahead it will take place in Europe.

Diamond said Kurdi, who has been negotiating with Hicks and Gillett since November last year, was backed by four major investors from the Middle East, though he declined to name them or to provide details of the offer they have made to the Americans.

He did say that they have agreed a fee with the Americans that includes taking on the £237m loan from RBS, providing funding for a new stadium and some transfer activity, and an equity consideration for Hicks and Gillett.

“We will reveal the names of the investors when it is appropriate but they have got the scratch to do this. This has never been about whether they have the money, its always been about the deal. The investors have provided proof of funds to the owners and I believe that information has been shared with Martin Broughton.”

Kirdi’s deal has the support of Hicks and Gillett as it is likely to offer them a bigger profit on the sale than Huang’s aggressive takeover, which appears predicated on forcing the Americans out by persuading RBS and the non-American majority on the board – Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre – that he should have control. Diamond said that Kurdi and the Americans were keen to avoid a boardroom stand-off and would seek a consensus, but said the owners would assert their rights if they came under pressure to accept a deal they were not happy with.

“None of us wants to be in the unpalatable position of pressing the point that Tom Hicks and George Gillett have the right to sell something that they own. But we believe that our bid is satisfactory and deals with the stadium, the debt and it deals with Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

“The enthusiasm of the investors will also ensure that there are sufficient funds to allow the owners to get the best possible help that can be found and execute an intelligent program to advance the club up the league table.”

With Huang’s heavyweight interest and the presence of at least one other significant bidder, thought to be the Rhone Group, still interested in the club Kurdi’s hopes of sealing a deal as quickly as Diamond hopes may be fanciful.

Broughton does want to secure new ownership by the end of the month if he can however, and the next week increasingly looks as if it may be a decisive one for the club.

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