By Nick Harris
13 August 2010
Liverpool have yet to identify a front-running bidder to buy the club from Tom Hicks and George Gillett, with an official “holding position” statement released this evening on Liverpool’s official website.
The statement says: “The Liverpool FC Board has reviewed a number of proposed bids for the club at a meeting held today. The Board will continue to act in the best interests of Liverpool Football Club and its supporters, doing all that it can to ensure that the Club is ultimately sold to a buyer who has the resources and real commitment to give it a long-term, stable and secure funding position for its plans.
“The sale process is continuing. However, its timing and outcome remain uncertain. In the meantime, we will not comment on rumour and speculation.”
The operative word in the statement is “proposed” in relation to bids; these are thought to be outline plans, not funded offers, hence the uncertainty of the rest of the statement.
Kenny Huang, reported last week to be the front man for a takeover backed by the $332bn CIC sovereign wealth fund, has not yet tabled any offer, it is understood. This would be consistent with what his Chicago-based business partner, Marc Ganis, told sportingintelligence earlier this week.
The Premier League has yet to begin the “10-day countdown” to a takeover: the League requires 10 days’ notice of a potential buyout and it has had no such notice from Liverpool and does not expect that notice imminently.
In an interview conducted and released in China yesterday, Huang rated his chances of success in a Liverpool takeover at 50 per cent. In the interview, with a basketball magazine he bought late last year, Huang stressed he would not be using any of his own money. He declined to name his backers but insisted that a respected investment manager, Guang Yang of Franklin Templeton, was involved.
Dorine Johnson, a spokeswoman for Franklin Templeton, said today in relation to whether Mr Yang is involved with Mr Huang’s bid: “Our position hasn’t changed. We stand by our statement [from earlier this week].”
That statement said: “Franklin Templeton has no involvement in the Liverpool FC bid and Guang Yang, EVP, Templeton Equity Group, has also stated that he has no involvement.”
Huang’s interview with his magazine involved the paradox of him speaking about signing a confidentiality agreement then talking at length about the process, and he also talked specifically about rival bidders from the Middle East and North America who remain unconfirmed themselves. He said he has hired a PR firm to help him but has actually used that same firm – Hill & Knowlton – for more than a year.
Huang was in Beijing yesterday and then traveled on to Qingdao to attend to basketball-related business, according to one source in the Chinese capital.
The Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi, an acknowledged friend of Gillett, has indicated via spokespeople at different points recently that his own takeover – reportedly back by Sharjah’s ruling family – was close to completion. There are major doubts over Kirdi’s credentials.
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