Shareholders at Anfield await formal offers

LIVERPOOL shareholders are still waiting for their formal offer from the Tom Hicks-George Gillett takeover, but there has been “general acceptance” to the deal from the vast majority.

Shareholders have had a week now to digest the details of the £5,000-a-share (€7400) offer from the US moguls to buy the Anfield club, and it is predicted there will be overwhelming agreement to sell.

It is likely that many senior shareholders will take the opportunity of next week’s Champions League trip to Barcelona to continue their discussions.

And it is also believed that third-biggest shareholder Steve Morgan, who will be at the Nou Camp and who has tried to buy Liverpool himself on three occasions, will also agree to sell his 6% holding.

That will bring him around £10million (€14.9m), while Granada — who hold 9.9% — have agreed to the sale only on the condition that there is no higher offer.

Granada paid £6,000 (€8,900) a share for their holding, and are still down on their original investment.

A rival bid, though, will not happen as far as shareholders are concerned, and many have already been swayed into agreeing to sell by the package of perks and privileges offered by Hicks and Gillett.

These involved are guaranteed season tickets for life in the new stadium plus an entitlement to buy tickets for major cup ties and finals.

One senior shareholder said: “Up until now that concession has never been put in writing, it is just accepted that shareholders are able to buy such tickets.

“But the new consortium are actually prepared to put that down in stone for ever. It has swayed a lot of people.”

He added: “Many shareholders have now had the chance to discuss the takeover and, although we have not as yet had any formal offer in writing, there is a general acceptance that it is the best for the club now.

“We have all received an 18-page document from David Moores (chairman) explaining the situation and revealing that he, director Terry Smith and Granada have agreed to sell.

“That gives Hicks and Gillett 62%. If Steve Morgan sells too, they are up to 68%, and they need just 75% for the offer to become unconditional.

“When they get to 90% they can force everyone else to sell. But the offer of privileges for current shareholders will not, obviously, apply to people who decline to sell.

“It is a major incentive for everyone to be on board. If they get to 90% they may well not even bother to force the rest to sell, they can take the club private and still do what they want.”

Chief executive Rick Parry is currently in the USA for talks with Gillett and Hicks, and is believed to have gone skiing with Gillett.

But it is very much a working trip, with the design and planning of the new Stanley Park stadium the main topic. Hicks and Gillett want to tweak the plans, without needing to affect the original planning application, to allow more flexibility in terms of executive box design.

Many shareholders will be interested in the relationship that now develops with Gillett’s son Foster, 31, who will be installed by the new regime at Anfield to work alongside Parry.

It is expected that the commercial, communications and marketing areas will be streamlined and heavily beefed up in the near future, under the command of Foster Gillett with Parry expected to run the football side of the new empire.

Former chairman and director Noel White, who left the board under a cloud recently after criticism of manager Rafael Benitez, made a return to the shareholders’ suit at Anfield for the Merseyside derby with Everton.

White had kept a low profile following the uproar over his comments about the manager. He has 107 shares and will gross more than £500,000 (€740,000) from their sale.

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