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Liverpool targeted by world's 7th richest man

Tue 9th Feb 2010 | Clubs Ownership

Liverpool emerged as a takeover target for the seventh-richest man in the world according to a report in The Times as the pressure mounts on Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr to cut a deal to sell the Anfield club.

It’s understood that Mukesh Ambani, the wealthiest man in India, is one of two tycoons from the sub-continent competing to buy a stake in the Merseyside club.

The Sahara Group’s chairman, Subrata Roy, and Ambani’s Reliance Industries have each tendered similar bids to pay off Liverpool’s £237 million debt in return for a 51 per cent stake in the club.

Each deal requires that the present owners make a commitment to take no dividends or expenses out of Anfield for three years to allow the club to resume a secure financial basis. One of the potential owners has also indicated a willingness to allow supporters to take a 10 per cent stake in Liverpool.

However it’s reported that any deal would be rejected should Hicks and Gillett be left with less than a 50% stake in the club unless it was a complete buyout. Any deal that leaves them with less than 50% would mean they would lose control of the club.

Ambani, 52, is said to be worth $19.5 billion (about £12.5 billion) — more than the combined worth of Sheikh Mansour and Roman Abramovich — from his investment in Reliance Industries, a petrochemicals giant, according to Forbes business magazine.

Liverpool’s financial woes have been widely reported and it’s understood that RBS, the clubs financers’ have stipulated that the current owners must pay off £100 million of the debt and inject tens of millions of pounds into the club. This was intended to push them into an agreement with a new investor that would permanently stabilise Liverpool’s finances.

Gillett and Hicks took over at Anfield three years ago in a leveraged buyout costing nearly £300 million, including £70 million for a stadium that remains unbuilt. Despite promises to the contrary, they loaded the debt on to the club via a £350 million loan with RBS and have struggled to service the debt since the credit crunch began 18 months ago.

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