It's been three weeks since New York-based Rhone Group offered to take 40 percent Liverppool FC off Tom Hicks's hands for a lousy £100-million investment, which would have been enough to satisfy the Royal Bank of Scotland's demand for a pay-down on that huge hunk o' debt. Which means the 20-day deadline's come and gone, so what did Hicks and co-owner George Gillett decide to do: take the offer and give up their control of the team, or punt and hope the money would come from elsewhere?
According to the U.K. Independent, Hicks and Gillett have taken a pass on Rhone's offer:
Investment community analysts believe that Liverpool hoped the interest of Rhone, who have been unwilling to discuss their bid, might have flushed out a better offer. But while two other prospective investors are believed to be in the wings, no alternative bids are on the table at the Easter target date identified by Liverpool managing director, Christian Purslow, for finding a new equity partner.
The sticking point in negotiations with Rhone seems to relate to Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett's refusal to cede overall control of the club. The owners' preference is to sell a 40 per cent stake in the club, but to combine their respective 30 per cent shares to maintain overall control. Rhone are likely to have wanted concrete assurances written into any deal that this would not happen.
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But maybe Hicks -- who, I hear, hasn't spoken about selling the Dallas Stars to anyone whose name rhymes with "Wayne Gretzky" -- doesn't need Rhone's dough: Yesterday there was word that Liverpool FC is on the verge of signing a £150-million deal with Adidas -- which, says here, "will rival Manchester United's record-breaking deal with Nike." But the question is: Was Adidas counting on Rhone's offer to shore up the balance sheet, or is this the payday that will satisfy RBS for the moment? As always, calls are into Hicks's local spokesperson, Lisa LeMaster.
Update: LeMaster says she doesn't know nothin' 'bout the U.K. doings at present. I also asked her about the Sports Business Journal report, posted earlier this afternoon, that bears the ominous headline: "MLB Sets Friday Deadline For Lenders To Decide On Rangers Deal." As in:
The standoff between creditors to the holding company that owns the MLB Rangers and Owner Tom Hicks may come to a head this Friday after MLB a few days ago set it as a deadline for the lenders to make a decision, financial sources said. Hicks Sports Group, which owns the Stars and Rangers, defaulted on $525M of debt over a year ago, and reached an agreement in January to sell the Rangers to Chuck Greenberg. But creditors have balked at the terms of the deal, and despite repeated negotiations, have been unable to come to terms. While Greenberg initially set April 1 as the closing date for his purchase -- and just this past weekend said it would occur the week of April 19th -- the ball in reality lies with the creditors, who want more cash out of the deal. The creditors want at least $300M of proceeds from the deal, while under the latest proposal, they would receive $270M.
LeMaster says she also has nothing to add at present.