Blackstone ends interest in Liverpool

BY foxsports • September 20, 2010

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks' plan to keep control of Liverpool with the help of an American private equity company has fallen through after the firm pulled out of a deal, a person familiar with the situation said Monday.

Hicks had hoped to secure a $437 million financing package from Blackstone subsidiary GSO Capital Partners and share control of the club, in a move that would have prevented a quick sale of Liverpool.

But Blackstone is no longer pursuing its interest in Liverpool after considering an initial deal, a person familiar with the company's plans told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations were private.

Hicks and co-owner George Gillett Jr. are facing an October deadline to repay the club's $370 million debt to Royal Bank of Scotland.

Hicks, who also owns the NHL's Dallas Stars, hoped the package would allow him to take full control, pay down the debt significantly and provide funds for players, a person familiar with the Texan's plans said Sunday. It would also have seen Gillett taking an "inactive" role.

Hicks and Gillett put the club up for sale in April, saying they lacked the funding to take Liverpool forward, on and off the field, due to its debt. Barclays Capital bank was tasked with overseeing the sale process and a new chairman, Martin Broughton, was hired.

But the lack of formal offers for the 18-time English champions has led to Hicks trying to put together his own refinancing deal - despite opposition from members of the club board he appointed.

Having bought Liverpool three years ago for $431 million, Hicks and Gillett hope to sell the club for more than $900 million.

They have strengthened the club's commercial operation, securing a new shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered bank worth around $134 million over four years.

But Liverpool has struggled on the field, failing to qualify for the Champions League this season and losing 3-2 at fierce rival Manchester United on Sunday to stay a point above the relegation zone.

Hicks' baseball team, the Texas Rangers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May and was bought in August by team president Nolan Ryan and sports attorney Chuck Greenberg at auction for $590 million.

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