Judgment day for Hicks and Gillett as sale in the balance

Singapore businessman Peter Lim makes improved offer for Liverpool as new bidder for club emerges

Ally McKay
Sunday 23 October 2011 06:08
Hicks is fighting the sale
Hicks is fighting the sale

Liverpool are set to find out this morning whether their ownership crisis has been resolved when a High Court judge delivers his ruling in the case between the club's bankers and the current owners.

Mr Justice Floyd is set to decide whether American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were in breach of contract when they tried to block the club's sale to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) for £300m.

Legal counsel for both the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Hicks and Gillett spent the best part of five hours yesterday arguing the rights and wrongs of decisions made by the club's executive chairman Martin Broughton and the American owners.

During that time a new offer came in from Singapore businessman Peter Lim, while it emerged in court proceedings that Mill Financial, the hedge fund which now controls Gillett's shares after he defaulted on a loan, are also interested in bidding for the club.

It was thought these developments would delay matters beyond Friday's repayment deadline for the loan from RBS, Liverpool's major creditors who launched the action against the owners. However, the court will reconvene this morning when Mr Justice Floyd is likely to give his judgement.

Any other decision than a victory for RBS or a further delay will give renewed hope to Hicks, Lim and Mill Financial and could set back the whole process by a week or more.

However, RBS would still have the option of putting Kop Holdings, Liverpool's parent company, into administration as the owners are technically already in breach of their loan agreement.

The bank's lawyers accused Hicks and Gillett of changing the running of the club to "frustrate" its sale ahead of Friday's deadline.

Richard Snowden QC, representing RBS, said the American owners now admitted "a calculated breach of contract" by seeking to change the constitution of the football companies controlling the Merseyside club and the boards involved without the consent of the bank.

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