Kop for sale to Kuwait - U.S. owners in talks with Arab billionaire
SPORTS AGENDA EXCLUSIVE by CHARLES SALE Last updated at 11:21 PM on 22nd January 2009
Liverpool have been on a covert mission to the Middle East in an attempt to sell the club to one of the richest men in the world.
The Anfield party, led by finance director Phil Nash, have been in Kuwait talking with billionaire Nasser Al-Kharafi.
Al-Kharafi, who studied business administration at the Liverpool College of Commerce, showed great interest in buying the club last autumn but a bid never materialised owing to the £600million price that the American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were quoting.
This latest venture to find a foreign buyer has been orchestrated by Hicks, whose fragile alliance with Gillett has broken down again. Both owners employ different financial consultants, Merrill Lynch and Rothschild, to represent them.
Hicks, who headhunted Nash from Arsenal, is examining options either to sell his 50 per cent stake or buy out Gillett, but their complicated ownership agreement would not help any initiative.
Hicks is also understood to be putting his Texas Rangers baseball team up for sale, a sign that he wants to concentrate his sporting interests on Liverpool.
He is certainly the wealthier of the two Americans, with Gillett having had to restructure his personal finances this month. There is an urgency to Hicks' latest sales pitch because Liverpool's current £350m bank facility is unlikely to continue after July with the two banks, Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia, both in serious trouble.
Al-Kharafi is president of the family conglomerate the Al-Kharafi Group, whose varied interests include running fast-food franchises such as KFC, Pizza Hut and Wimpy throughout the Middle East.
Forbes ranked him at No 46 in their 2008 list of the world's richest people. The family made a fortune in engineering and construction before diversifying into an international business empire.
Al-Kharafi was serious enough about buying Liverpool last year to have hired football stockbroker specialists Seymour Pierce, though his camp deny reports that they were also approached by Mike Ashley to buy Newcastle.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1126801/Kop-sale-Kuwait--U-S-owners-talks-Arab-billionaire.html?ITO=1490