Liverpool FC agree American takeover

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The Independent Online

Liverpool have agreed to an offer from American tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks to buy the club.

A statement was made to the Stock Exchange stating they have agreed the terms "of a recommended cash offer" to be made by Kop Football Limited, the American pair's bid vehicle.

The statement read: "The offer is £5,000 in cash for each Liverpool Share, valuing the issued share capital of Liverpool at approximately £174.1million.

"Together with the £44.8million of net debt in the club as at December 31 2006, this represents an enterprise value for Liverpool of £218.9 million."

The statement revealed the board "unanimously recommends" that shareholders accept the offer.

"Kop is an English private limited company, which has been incorporated for the specific purpose of making the offer and which is ultimately jointly controlled by Mr George Gillett jnr and Mr Thomas O Hicks.

"The board of Liverpool... considers the terms of the Offer to be fair and reasonable.

"The board of Liverpool unanimously recommends that Liverpool Shareholders accept the offer."

The club's board also revealed key factors in their decision to accept the proposal.

"Kop has indicated its intention to build, as soon as reasonably practicable, the proposed new 60,000 seat stadium at Stanley Park for which the club has already received planning permission and to facilitate the financing of its construction

"Kop has indicated that it is committed to an annual budget for player transfers and is able to supplement this should Liverpool's management and Kop agree additional funds are required.

"Kop is supportive of both the current executives and the football team management at Liverpool to provide stability to the club."

Reds chairman David Moores, who revealed he will become honorary life president, said: "I believe this is a great step forward for Liverpool, its shareholders and its fans.

"This club is my passion and forms a huge part of my life. After much careful consideration, I have agreed to sell my shares to assist in securing the investment needed for the new stadium and for the playing squad.

"I urge all my fellow shareholders to do the same and to support the offer. By doing so, I believe you will be backing the successful future of Liverpool Football Club.

"I am also delighted to accept the offer from the Hicks and Gillett families to continue my involvement in the club by becoming honorary life president."

Gillett and Hicks, who both own NHL teams, were expected to make an announcement after further progress was made on their £470million takeover offer yesterday.

Hicks, who also owns the Texas Rangers baseball team, joined forces with Gillett to gazump rival bidders Dubai International Capital last week.

A statement from the duo said: "Liverpool is a fantastic club with a remarkable history and a passionate fanbase.

"We fully acknowledge and appreciate the unique heritage and rich history of Liverpool and intend to respect this heritage in the future. The Hicks family and the Gillett family are extremely excited about continuing the club's legacy and tradition."

Arrangements over the future of Liverpool's new stadium appear to have clinched the deal. Not only has Hicks built up a reputation for developing state-of-the-art stadia for his teams, but the duo have now guaranteed that Liverpool's new Stanley Park ground would not be shared with other teams.

In Gillett's original approach, when he was considering a solo takeover, he had indicated he wanted a ground-share arrangement to cut costs and maximise income.

Hicks and Gillett will split the £470million cost of taking over the club on a 50-50 basis, with around £255million going to buy the shareholding and take over the £80million debt, and a further £215million on the stadium.

The takeover means Liverpool, Manchester United and Aston Villa will all be in American hands.

Malcolm Glazer, owner of American football's (NFL) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owns United and Randy Lerner, owner of NFL's Cleveland Browns, bought Aston Villa last year.

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