Gillett denies review link to sale of Liverpool stake

By Ian Herbert
Wednesday 25 March 2009 01:00

The overhaul of assets being undertaken by the co-owner of Liverpool, George Gillett, appears to be part of an attempt to ensure that banks refinance loans made to buy the club rather than an indication that he is about to sell up imminently.

"We have made no decision to sell," Gillett said of his Liverpool shareholding yesterday. "We have appointed advisers in different countries to assess our assets but it has nothing to do with any decisions to sell any assets. Any links between what we are doing and the situation at Liverpool is incorrect."

Though the departure of Gillett's ally, Rick Parry, from the chief executive's office had been interpreted in some quarters as an indication that the American was planning to leave the club that he bought in a 50-50 arrangement with Tom Hicks in February 2007, Gillett's clarification of the decision to rationalise his assets is his firmest indication for some time that he is planning to remain at Anfield for the medium term.

That sense was backed up by Hicks last week when he said that he and Gillett had been "getting along" since last May and that he did not believe Gillett was planning on leaving the club.

Any desire to remain, ideally supported by new business owners who would help raise the capital needed for Liverpool's new stadium, is dependent on the Americans first persuading the Royal Bank of Scotland to reschedule £350m loans in July. "We are going to raise some capital from some other investors to strengthen the club," Hicks said last week.

The casualty in any strategy by Gillett to hold on at Anfield may be his ownership of the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team, which he may relinquish and whose on-field fortunes provide a stark contrast to Liverpool's recent resurgence to within a point of Manchester United at the top of Premier League.

The North-American based BMO Capital Markets has been hired to take stock of Gillett's assets, and is considering anything from a restructuring of his interests to a sell-off. Any decision by Gillett to sit tight at Anfield may reflect conclusions that he will not find investors willing or able to buy. There has been interest from investment groups in Dubai and later Kuwait but the asking price, in the region of £500m before the credit crunch hit, has simply been too high.

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