A Chinese-backed group of investors interested in buying a stake in Liverpool Football Club is willing to raise its valuation amid optimism on higher broadcasting revenue and more seats at the club’s soccer stadium, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Financier Amanda Staveley, whose PCP Capital Partners is part of the bidding group that also includes Hong Kong-based China Everbright Group, has so far valued the asset at about 750 million pounds ($998 million) and would be prepared to move closer to 1 billion pounds, said the person, who asked not be identified because discussions are private.
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have said they’re not considering an outright sale of the club, but would contemplate parting with a minority stake. Their advisers, Allen & Co, have been talking up the valuation of the club, comparing its status to the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City, according to the person.
Representatives for the group considering a Liverpool stake declined to comment. The soccer club was ranked ninth by annual revenue in Deloitte’s Football Money League in January. Spain’s Real Madrid and FC Barcelona were first and second while Manchester United was third. Fenway Sports bought Liverpool for about 300 million pounds in October 2010.
While Staveley’s initial appraisal of the club is based on recent earnings at Liverpool and the relatively poor on-field performance, the group’s willingness to entertain a higher bid also stems from other deals in the space that have achieved more favorable valuations. Premier League team values are soaring because of the latest domestic and international broadcast agreement worth about 9 billion pounds.
Allen & Co. has stressed Liverpool’s iconic heritage, the person said, as one of the world’s most-followed clubs thanks to successes in the 1970s and 1980s. The club hasn’t won an English title since 1990 and has been overshadowed in the interim by wealthier rivals, including Manchester City and Chelsea, teams now owned by billionaires from the Middle East and Russia, respectively.