Dubai International Capital are considering making an offer for George Gillett’s half of Liverpool after co-owner Tom Hicks insisted he had no plans to sell his stake in the club.
Texan billionaire Hicks claims he is completely committed to the Reds and has denied reports he has invited DIC to inspect the club’s accounts in preparation for a takeover.
But while DIC would be interested in buying out Gillett instead, they would also want some of Hicks’ holding so they had the controlling interest in the club.
It is understood Hicks – who has suffered a breakdown in relations with American co-owner Gillett – had talks with DIC even after a £350m (€463m) refinancing package was announced on January 25.
Hicks will also be aware he is unpopular on Merseyside – his son Thomas Jnr was spat at and chased out of a pub by angry fans following Liverpool’s game with Middlesbrough at Anfield on Saturday.
Hicks’ statement denied any move on his part to sever ties, however.
It read: “Reports that I am about to sell my stake in the Liverpool Football Club, or to invite DIC to examine the club’s books in preparation for such a sale – like other such reports planted in the UK press in recent weeks by parties with their own self-interested agenda – are absolutely and categorically false.
“The reality is that I am personally, professionally and financially committed to the club and its supporters and that I will continue to honour that commitment to the best of my ability now and in the future.”
It appears no takeover by DIC is imminent but that the Dubai company, the investment arm of the Maktoum royal family, are keeping their options open.
The main problem preventing a takeover remains the price DIC are willing to pay.
It has been nowhere near the amount of money Hicks has been asking for – he would want to make a substantial sum out of selling the club.
Another hurdle to overcome is that the refinancing package announced on January 25 has loaded £105m (€139m) of debt on to the club.
Of that, £60m (€79m) is earmarked to kick-start the new stadium development plus £45m (€59.6m) for future player transfers and to meet the club’s working capital needs.
The takeover talk is being driven by the fact the refinancing deal only lasts for 18 months and so Hicks and Gillett are soon going to have to start renegotiating the debts.
Furthermore, they are shortly going to have to go back to the banks to ask for a further £300m (€397m) in loans to finance the rest of the new stadium at Stanley Park.