Dubai International Capital confirms bid for Liverpool

Dubai: Dubai International Capital, the private equity arm of the Dubai Holding, said on Tuesday that it is bidding to buy the Liverpool football club, but said the company has not reached an agreement with the American owners of the club on the valuation. “It’s no secret that we have been in discussions with the current owners. But valuations they expect have been out of sync with our assessment,” Sameer Al Ansari, chief executive of Dubai International Capital (DIC) said on the sidelines of the Private Equity International Forum in Dubai yesterday. Al Ansari did not rule out the possibility of reaching an agreement with the current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Speaking about the valuation, Al Ansari said the Liverpool owners are in a ‘dreamland’. However, he noted that one of them now is coming out of the dreamland. Despite Hicks’ remarks last month that he was not planning to sell a stake in the soccer club, there have been persistent rumours and media reports in recent weeks about DIC’s negotiations with the owners of the club. London-based newspaper The Times said yesterday that DIC was confident Gillett would accept its offer of £200 million ($397 million) for his 50 per cent stake, but added there were claims that Hicks was ready to exercise his option to buy it out. Hicks and Gillet borrowed £350 million ($695 million) in January as part of a refinancing deal. If DIC has offered a total of £400 million as reported by the British media yesterday, the American investors would make a total of £50 million from the deal. If the deal with DIC does not go through, the club will be saddled with an annual interest burden of £28 million on the funds borrowed by the American owners. While Liverpool fans are concerned about the debt burden, Hicks, in particular, has been under pressure after being subjected to heavy criticism from fans following public disagreements with popular manager Rafael Benitez. He has also come under fire for his public admission that talks had been held with Jurgen Klinsmann about possibly succeeding the Spaniard. Update: Owners reject offer Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett rejected Dubai International Capital’s bid for the Premier League club yesterday, the Associated Press reported. The £400 million ($800 million) offer for the English club was turned down, a person involved with the negotiations said. He spoke on condition of anonymity. Hicks “turned down the offer immediately upon receipt,” the person said, adding the Texan is still willing to allow Gillett to sell 49 per cent of his stake as long as Hicks gets the other one per cent. – AP

Par La Rando MIDDLE EAST