Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Singaporean bids for Liverpool

Former 'remisier king' Peter Lim ready to swoop if Boston bid fails

11:55 AM Oct 12, 2010 LONDON

On the eve of a court battle to decide the future ownership of Liverpool, a new contender - Singapore billionaire Peter Lim - is reportedly ready to make a higher offer for the club.

Mr Lim originally matched the £300 million ($622 million) being offered by the Boston bidders to wipe out the club's debts, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press yesterday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the proceedings.

But Mr Lim, who was ranked 655th on Forbes magazine's list of global billionaires in March with an estimated net worth of about $2 billion, was told by text message last week that Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre had rejected his offer in favour of one from New England Sports Ventures (NESV), which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Sportingintelligence reporting Mr Lim, once known as Singapore's "remisier king", as saying he was "surprised and disappointed" not to have gotten the chance to outbid NESV.

The Boston group have now signed a binding agreement, but Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr are trying to block the sale because they say it undervalues the club.

Such is the uncertainty surrounding Liverpool's future - the club's owners will face their chief creditors Royal Bank of Scotland in the High Court later today - Mr Lim believes his chances of a successful takeover remain alive.

Liverpool has debts and liabilities of about £285 million. Reports claim that Mr Lim, like NESV, is offering to repay all of Liverpool's £200 million long-term debt, take on £60 million of other debt and inject £40 million of working capital. Also on the table is millions of pounds for manager Roy Hodgson to improve on the squad during the January transfer window.

This capital, it is reported, would come from his own fortune, rather than through borrowing. Mr Lim is the eighth-richest man in Singapore, having made his fortune in stockbroking, and owns a string of Manchester United-themed bars across Asia.

It is understood that the Liverpool board is concerned that NESV will have to borrow to finance the takeover, which could leave the club in the same position as it is under Hicks and Gillett, a major point of concern among the football club's frustrated fans.

RBS wants the sale to the Red Sox owners to proceed and has already held off from putting the club into financial administration, a form of bankruptcy protection, or demanding instant repayment of the club's debts. Although Mr Lim's intervention will be immaterial if RBS wins the case, which could take several days to resolve, it may prove problematic for RBS and Liverpool if it aids the argument of Hicks and Gillett that they could have achieved a higher price for the club they still own. AGENCIES

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