This is tuning into a joke now.................
Anfield deal hit by leaked plans
By DANIEL KING
Last updated at 21:40pm on 30th December 2006
The takeover of Liverpool Football Club by Sheik Mohammed’s company, Dubai International Capital, has been engulfed by a row over secret documents revealing controversial plans to sell off the club at a profit within seven years of any buy-up.
City sources who have seen the proposals warn that the club would have to be run more along the stringent lines of the Glazer family’s Manchester United than the apparently more carefree Roman Abramovich regime at Chelsea.
Last night, DIC gave The Mail on Sunday an insight into their strategy in a bid to reassure Liverpool fans and officials. But the immediate concern for the Anfield board and the Dubai company is how a 30 per cent stake in the club came to be touted around the City by a company which is currently under investigation by the Inland Revenue.
The Mail on Sunday has evidence that Vantis, a financial advisory company, aquired an internal DIC memo and claimed that they were in contact with the group trying to buy Liverpool and that there was an opportunity for other investors to buy up to 30 per cent of the club for £50m.
DIC deny any connection with Vantis. A DIC source said: "Vantis is not working on this transaction and it has no mandate from DIC. DIC does not have a relationship with Vantis in regard to this or any other matter."
Earlier this year, Vantis were involved in the regime change at Southampton, with executive Ken Anderson acting as spokesman for the successful Michael Wilde takeover.
But Anderson, a licensed football agent, was sidelined from that deal when it was revealed that in October 2005 he was banned from being a company director until 2013 for a number of offences.
The Mail on Sunday has seen evidence that Anderson was involved in Vantis’s activities in relation to Liverpool.
Three senior executives at Vantis are also under investigation by the Inland Revenue over allegations of tax evasion in relation to investment schemes set up for high-profile clients, including England rugby captain Martin Corry.
It remains unclear how Vantis came to be in possession of the seven-page DIC document, which, among other things, reveals that the deal to buy Liverpool and build a new stadium would be worth £520m, £365m of which would be debt.
According to the leaked document, due diligence should now be complete and the project is on target for a formal offer in January or February.
But the leaking of the document and the suggestion that 30 per cent of the club would be available to other investors could undermine the Liverpool board’s confidence in the deal.
Liverpool have always known that other institutions from Dubai or the Middle East could be part of a consortium with DIC, but never that investors from elsewhere could be involved and certainly not while DIC are examining the club’s books.
According to emails seen by The Mail on Sunday, Neil Foster, a Vantis executive, told one interested party that Vantis were ‘in contact with the team from Dubai who are currently in discussions to acquire LFC’.
The email goes on to say: "The opportunity exists to acquire up to 30 per cent, with a 15 per cent stake being priced at £25m."
These figures match almost exactly the price DIC have provisionally agreed of £156.7m for all the Liverpool stock, or £4,500 per share.
A later email makes it clear that Vantis had not been engaged by Liverpool or DIC. Nevertheless, they believed that 30 per cent of Liverpool was up for grabs.
Vantis’s motivation was to share with the recipient of the email an introduction fee of three to five per cent, which they would hope to recover from DIC.
Fosterrefused to comment and Anderson was unavailable for comment.
Well-placed sources in the City who have seen the secret document have been as surprised by its contents as by the fact that it has been leaked.
The document effectively states that DIC believe they can reverse the fortunes of cash-strapped Liverpool in seven to eight years, at which point they could consider selling the club.
Experts believe that to meet their target of increasing the club’s value from £160m to £925m, DIC would have to be as aggressive as the Glazers, especially since they, too, would take on huge debts to fund the deal.
As well as borrowing £65m to refinance Liverpool’s existing debt, DIC would seek a loan of £300m to fund the new 61,000-seater stadium at Stanley Park. It would cost about £20m to cover that borrowing every year, roughly equal to the profit Liverpool made in the 2005 season when they won the Champions League.
Leading financiers believe DIC’s plans would fall apart if Liverpool failed to qualify for the Champions League for two years in a row. But last night DIC denied that their deal relied on Champions League football every year.
A DIC source said: "Any debt repayments, or indeed transfer fund requirements, will be manageable regardless of Champions League qualification. DIC will be using leading banks in the field of sports stadium financing and running the project along the lines of other recent successful developments, such as Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. What the debt level will be is still to be decided, but it will be sustainable and at a level the club can afford."