Friday, January 23, 2009

Liverpool sale would cost owners $150m in lost profits

George Gillett, Tom Hicks

Liverpool's owners George Gillett, left, and Tom Hicks, right, pose with unidentified family members at Anfield in February 2007. Photograph: Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Tom Hicks and George Gillett will have to settle for a profit reduced by $150m (£110m) if they sell Liverpool to Nasser al-Kharafi, the Kuwaiti billionaire, after their failure to close a deal for Liverpool last July.

Kharafi approached the Americans last year with a view to sealing a £600m purchase of the Anfield club. But, with contracts all but signed, Kharafi inexplicably pulled out of the negotiations. Hicks is said by one close observer to have been "incandescent" at the failure to close the deal last summer.

Kharafi has returned to the table but it is understood this time on different terms. Liverpool are now six months from maturity on their £350m loans with RBS and Wachovia, and it does not appear likely any banks will continue to support the Americans' highly leveraged operation. Neither Hicks nor Gillett is believed to have invested any cash in their purchase of Liverpool and, with the pair reportedly not seeing eye to eye, that situation is unlikely to change.

Kharafi is expected now to take advantage of the immovable July deadline faced by the Americans with a reduced offer in the region of £400m.

It is understood that no price has yet been agreed. However, the fact that the details of the negotiations were leaked suggests it is close to being finalised.

Alongside the fall in the purchase price, the collapse in the value of the pound against the dollar means the profit Hicks and Gillett are expected to make for selling Liverpool will in dollar terms be slashed to little more than $40m each.

By Matt Scott


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