Hicks terminates talks with Dubai group interested in Liverpool stake

Rob Harris,Ap
Monday 10 March 2008 18:36
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Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks terminated talks with a Dubai consortium Monday over acquiring a minority stake in the Premier League club.

His decision came hours after Dubai International Capital said its negotiations with co-owner George Gillett Jr. were moving along.

"I have decided to terminate any further discussions with DIC regarding their possible purchase of a minority stake in Kop (Holdings) and, in turn, in the club," Hicks said in a statement. "DIC made it clear that if they invested in the club, they would want it to be managed by committee."

Hicks, who also owns baseball's Texas Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars, has been trying to ensure DIC wouldn't use its financial muscle to force him out of Anfield. Casey Shilts, the chief operating officer at Hicks Sports Group, and Hicks' son, Mack, met with the UAE group Monday.

"Based on my 13 years of successful experience as an owner of professional sports teams, and based in particular on the situation at Liverpool Football Club over the past year, it is clear to me that such a committee approach would not be in the best interest of Kop, of the club or of the club's loyal and passionate supporters," Hicks said. "Accordingly, I have decided to exercise my right under the Kop Football (Holdings) Limited partnership agreement to veto any sale of any portion of Kop and the club to DIC."

Over the weekend, Hicks denounced DIC's conduct in trying to acquire 49 percent of the Reds from Gillett. As co-owner, the Texan has the power to block the deal, which was set to be worth 170 million pounds (US$342 million; €223 million).

Hicks said other parties could be preferred to buy most of Gillett's stock.

"I and my colleagues and representatives will continue to explore a number of other options with regard to the ownership of Kop and the club aimed at achieving an appropriate ownership, financial and organizational structure for Kop and the club over the long term," Hicks said.

On Saturday, Hicks said he was furious with DIC lead negotiator Amanda Staveley for leaking private correspondence to the media, and stating that Dubai-ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's true intentions were to seize control of the whole club.

Last week, Hicks rebuffed DIC's 500 million pound (US$993 million; €650 million) bid for the club. That would have included paying off the refinancing package that Hicks and Gillett negotiated in January for the loan used to purchase the Reds.

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

The duo's relationship has broken down since they bought Liverpool for 218.9 million pounds (then US$431 million) in March 2007.

On Tuesday, Liverpool will try to become the fourth English team to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League when it faces Inter Milan with a 2-0 lead from the first leg. The Champions League is essentially Liverpool's last chance of winning a title this season.

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