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Habs owner to buy Liverpool

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January 31, 2007

LIVERPOOL, England (AP-CP) -- Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr., appears poised for a takeover of Liverpool after a Dubai-based consortium withdrew a proposed 450 million pound (C$1.04 billion) bid for the storied soccer club Wednesday.

Dubai International Capital, owned by Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, called off negotiations with the five-time European champions after hearing that the board of directors was listening to a rival bid from Gillett.

"We are very disappointed to be making this announcement," DIC executive chairman Sameer Al Ansari said in a statement.

"DIC is a serious investor with considerable resources at its disposal. At the same time, we are supporters -- of the game and of the club. Liverpool's investment requirements have been well publicized and, after a huge amount of work, we proposed a deal that would provide the club with the funds it needs, both on and off the pitch.

"We were also prepared to offer shareholders a significant premium on the market price of the shares. However, we will not overpay for assets."

Liverpool has won a record 18 English league titles and is planning to build a new 60,000-capacity stadium.

The DIC announcement came the day after the Liverpool board decided against formally accepting the bid and said it needed more time to consider Gillett's offer.

Gillett, a Colorado businessman, bought the Canadiens in 2001. He is a former minority owner of the Miami Dolphins and the Harlem Globetrotters.

If Gillett succeeds in buying Liverpool, he would become the third American owner of a Premier League team. Malcolm Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, controls Manchester United; Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner took over Aston Villa in September.

Liverpool has long been looking for a buyer to help fund construction of a new stadium to replace Anfield, and provide the financial power to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in the transfer market.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra made a bid fir Liverpool three years ago. The Liverpool board also had talks with another American billionaire, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

The Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica has also been linked with a takeover, and Liverpool chairman David Moores has already resisted attempts from local businessman Steve Morgan to invest in the club

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Guest Jeffery S.

New article, from BBC today; this sounds more like a done deal to me:

US pair agree Liverpool takeover

Gillett and Hicks will be co-chairmen of Liverpool

American tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks have reached an agreement to take over Liverpool.

Hicks and Gillett will be co-chairmen but will leave existing chief executive Rick Parry to run the club.

Liverpool chairman David Moores, who will become an honorary life president, said: "This is a great step forward for its shareholders and its fans."

The pair, who each own NHL ice hockey teams, beat off competition from Dubai International Capital.

Their offer is worth £5,000 per share, valuing the club at £174.1m, and along with the club's £44.8m debt it values the club at £218.9m.

But the pair are also believed to have guaranteed to invest over £200m in the club, but they refused to discuss figures.

They confirmed they will make funds available, both for team strengthening and the building of the club's new stadium in Stanley Park and denied they had secured the club on borrowed money.

"We have purchased the club with no debt on the club," said Gillett. "We believe in the future of the club, the future of the league, the new TV contracts are outstanding and we are proud to be a part of it.

"This is truly the largest sport in the world, the most important sport in the world, and this is the most important club in the most important sport in the world.

"What a privilege we have to be associated with it and we hope that with the good graces of Rick and his team that we will have on-the-pitch success and economic success."

They said the club would consider selling the naming rights to the new stadium.

Gillett added: "If the naming rights are worth one great player a year in transfer spending, we will certainly look at that as a serious option."

But both Gillett and Hicks vowed to safeguard the legacy of the club and leave Parry and manager Rafa Benitez to do their jobs.

Existing chief executive Rick Parry will be left to run the club

A club statement earlier confirmed that a deal had finally been done after a three-year search for new owners.

It said: "Liverpool FC today announced that the board have agreed the terms of an offer for the club from Mr George Gillett and Mr Tom Hicks.

"The board are unanimously recommending that the club's shareholders accept this offer."

Moores was not present at the official announcement, with Parry saying it was probably "the worst day of his life" and the "biggest decision".

But in a statement he said: "This club is my passion and forms a huge part of my life. After much careful consideration, I have agreed to sell my shares to assist in securing the investment needed for the new stadium and for the playing squad.

"I urge all my fellow shareholders to do the same and to support the offer. By doing so, I believe you will be backing the successful future of Liverpool.

"I am also delighted to accept the offer from the Hicks and Gillett families to continue my involvement in the club by becoming honorary life president."

Parry added: "This is great for Liverpool, our supporters and the shareholders - it is the beginning of a new era for the club.

Hicks, who owns the Dallas Stars ice hockey club as well as the Texas Rangers baseball team, joined forces with Gillett to gazump rival bidders DIC last week. "They are bringing to the table tremendous and relevant experience, a passion for sport, real resources and a strong commitment to the traditions of Liverpool.

"We know that George and Tom want a long-term relationship with Liverpool and that they also understand the importance of investing in our success both on and off the field.

"They have made clear their intention to move as quickly as practicable on the financing and construction of our proposed new stadium at Stanley Park and also to support investment in the playing squad."

Both Parry and Gillett said the addition of Hicks last month had been crucial in sealing the deal.

The Hicks family and the Gillett family are extremely excited about continuing the club's legacy and tradition

Joint statement from Hicks and Gillett

But Gillett dismissed reports that said he had planned to groundshare with neighbours Everton, saying that Parry had warned him off such a suggestion at their first meeting.

Gillett, owner of Montreal Canadiens, has impressed Liverpool with his proposals and the speed at which he completed due diligence - the process of investigation by potential investors - in three days.

The 68-year-old American has also stressed his experience in running successful sporting operations.

It is thought to be the first time that two owners of rival sports clubs in one league have combined to purchase a club in another.

Liverpool will become the third Premiership side to come under the control of American owners, following the takeovers of Manchester United and Aston Villa in recent years.

A joint statement from Gillett and Hicks said: "Liverpool is a fantastic club with a remarkable history and a passionate fanbase.

"We fully acknowledge and appreciate the unique heritage and rich history of Liverpool and intend to respect this heritage in the future.

"The Hicks family and the Gillett family are extremely excited about continuing the club's legacy and tradition.

"We are particularly pleased that David Moores and Rick Parry will have a continuing involvement in the club. For us continuity and stability are keys to the future."

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