Liverpool May Be Sold This Month Amid Reports of Chinese Suitor

Liverpool May Be Sold This Month
“It still remains the objective to conclude a deal before the end of the transfer window,” the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper cited Broughton as saying last night. Photographer: Charles Crowell/Bloomberg

Liverpool soccer club, the 18-time English champion put up for sale in April, may find a buyer by Aug. 31, Chairman Martin Broughton said amid reports of offers from suitors including Chinese businessman Kenny Huang.

“It still remains the objective to conclude a deal before the end of the transfer window,” the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper cited Broughton as saying last night. “That remains the objective but there are no deadlines, and we will continue working to complete the process.”

Huang approached Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc with an offer to acquire Liverpool’s debt of 237 million pounds ($376 million), U.K. newspapers including the London-based Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported yesterday. Rachel Chan, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Huang, said in an e-mail today that she had no immediate comment from Huang. A voicemail left on Huang’s U.S. phone wasn’t returned.

Asian investment in English Premier League soccer clubs isn’t new. Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra owned Manchester City from 2007 to 2008, while Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung completed his $130 million takeover of Birmingham City in October.

Huang, the head of Hong Kong-based investment company QSL Sports Ltd., was yesterday reported in U.K. newspapers to have contacted RBS with a view to guaranteeing repayment of the debt owed by Liverpool’s U.S. co-owners George Gillett Jr. and Tom Hicks in an effort to gain financial control. His bid is one of “several,” the Guardian cited Broughton as saying.

Piers Townsend, a spokesman for RBS, said yesterday in an interview that the government-controlled lender isn’t in talks over the sale of Liverpool.

Credit Facility

The bank extended the owners’ credit facility after Liverpool hired British Airways Plc Chairman Broughton in April to oversee the sale. The extension runs until early October.

Broughton was cited by the Guardian as saying the club’s board will decide on Liverpool’s future.

“Any bids that go straight to RBS, and there have been several, come to me and are directed to” Barclays Capital, Broughton was cited as saying. “RBS are not involved. The control remains with the board.”

Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of Barclays Plc, was appointed April 16 to advise on the sale.

Hicks has said he wants as much as 800 million pounds for the club, which he and Gillett bought in 2007 for 219 million pounds, including debt.

Huang’s involvement in Chinese sports include roles as co- chairman of both the National Basketball League of China and the Chinese Baseball League, according to a biographical sheet e-mailed by Chan. Huang also founded the QSL Youth Sports Development Foundation, a fund for underprivileged children in China, and is chairman of the Chinese Youth Baseball League.

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