Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

DIC may rekindle Liverpool bid

Dubai interests may again emerge as the main player in the battle to buy Liverpool.

Speculation is growing in the Middle East that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, thought to have lost interest in the Anfield club last year as the credit crunch started to bite, may be preparing another move for the club.

But if that does happen, it will only be during the summer as Liverpool's current American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett try to extend their £350million loan with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia — a prospect which, in the current financial climate, looks remote.

Sheikh Maktoum is the ruler of Dubai and founder of Dubai International Capital, who were involved in lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful negotiations to buy the club last year.

The Sheikh then took on the potential takeover on a personal level, but also opted to pull away several months ago.

But with the intense rivalry between the Arab states over ownership of Premier League clubs, the Sheikh is again believed to be reviewing the situation.

It emerged last week that a Kuwaiti group, the oil-rich Al-Kharafi family, were involved in talks — initially with Hicks — over a potential buyout, plus the £400m financing of the club's proposed new stadium.

But the £600m asking price was considered too high and, following the amount of publicity the offer generated, it is now believed consortium leader Nasser Al-Kharafi has pulled out of negotiations.

A source close to the Middle East groups said: "The price was too high and the Kuwaitis were annoyed that their interest was leaked.

"Surely in the current climate, and with time running out on the Americans who must repay or re-finance their loan in July, nobody is going to buy Liverpool at this present time.

"The price drops with every passing day, and any prospective buyer would now wait until the summer before making a move. By then, the Americans would have to accept a much lower price — around £400m or lower."

That applies if the Americans fail to re-negotiate their current deal, although there have been suggestions they still have hopes of achieving that.

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