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Battle over Liverpool intensifies

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks launched an angry attack Saturday on the Dubai consortium battling for control of the English Premier League club, criticizing its behavior during negotiations.

Dubai International Capital agreed late Friday to cede to Hicks’ condition that his Anfield partner George Gillett Jr. would be limited to selling 98 percent of his stock, equating to 49 percent of Liverpool, which beat Newcastle 3-0 on Saturday.

But Hicks told The Associated Press that he’s upset with DIC’s lead negotiator Amanda Staveley, saying she has been leaking private correspondence between the pair to the British media.

If she thinks that is an appropriate way to acquire a stake in Liverpool FC, she had better think again, Hicks said in a statement to the AP.

The heightened dispute was a blow to fans’ hopes that a partnership breakthrough could restore stability to the club after months of turmoil. Watch how Hicks and Gillett have failed to win over fans

As for Amanda Staveley, who has a reputation for being pretty smart, she should know better than to publicly put words in my mouth, particularly words that she knows, or should know, perfectly well aren’t true, Hicks said. She should also know better than to release actual copies of my private correspondence to the press.

Staveley has also said that DIC, the investment arm of the Dubai government, would try to dominate Hicks by bankrolling the club with its superior financial clout and pledged to work on forcing Hicks into selling his 50 percent stake.

Staveley could not be reached for comment.

Hicks insisted that no deal has been brokered with DIC and that it faced competition to acquire even a minority stake.

DIC is one of several potential minority investors we are or will be talking to, he said.

This week Hicks rebuffed DIC’s $993 million bid for the whole club. That would have included paying off the refinancing package Americans Hicks and Gillett negotiated in January for the loan used to purchase the Reds.

Instead, in the short term, DIC is resigned to working with Hicks.

Subject to renegotiation of a partnership agreement and subject to the stringent minority shareholder protection rights we would be prepared to accept a 49 percent shareholding in Liverpool FC, said Staveley, who works for financial advisory firm PCP Capital Partners. We have decided that this arrangement provides the best possible solution to the situation and would be in the best interests of the club and their loyal fans.

Hicks is on the verge of acquiring a majority interest by buying 2 percent of Gillett’s stock and is insistent on not relinquishing his position. But DIC’s determination to gain full control hasn’t wavered.

Tom Hicks knows that in the long run we will be 100 percent owners of the club, but we are prepared to play a waiting game, Staveley said in comments that angered Hicks. We will be able to pay the price for the financing of the club and construction of a new stadium.

Both Hicks and Gillett were in telephone contact with Staveley on Friday, but a deal was yet to be signed.

Hicks has a team of lawyers in Dubai ready to meet with DIC’s legal representatives early next week.

Hicks can block Gillett from selling because of a preemption agreement that says one partner can’t sell his stake without the other’s approval.

Liverpool fans have mounted a stream of protests against the turmoil in the Anfield boardroom, with the Kop backing the DIC bid to remove the American owners in chants at half time in Wednesday’s 4-0 victory over West Ham.

But this compromise deal could only add to the uncertainty which has blighted Liverpool’s season.

Gillett had been offered up to $158 million, including a share of future profits, to sell his full stake and end his turbulent year in English soccer. It is unclear what he will be offered for 98 percent of his stake.

Hicks and Gillett bought Liverpool for $431 million in March 2007, and each own 50 percent of the club.
Battle over Liverpool intensifies – found here.


March 9, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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