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Apr 26, 2009

Liverpool linked with £500m Indian takeover

Liverpool are reported to have held talks with Indian billionaire Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao over a potential £500m takeover at Anfield.

Representatives of Rao's GMR Group were guests at the Merseyside club earlier this week and witnessed the 4-4 draw with Arsenal.

Rao, who has a fortuned estimated at over £4bn and owns Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket team Delhi Daredevils, is understood to be a Liverpool fan and is reportedly keen to invest in other sports, particularly English football.

The News of the World report that Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks opened negotiations with Rao initially with a view to arranging a sponsorship deal, but the Indian businessman who made his fortune in the airport and construction industries is thought to be considering a major investment in the club which could lead to an eventual takeover.

A source told the News of the World: "The GMR group were invited by Hicks and their representative watched the Arsenal match in the directors' box with Hicks' son Tommy. It was quite clear the representative was a fan".

Hicks and his co-owner George Gillett could be forced to sell Liverpool in July unless they can refinance £350m of loans the duo took out in order to takeover the club.

The two US sports investors have endured a fractious relationship since joining forces at Liverpool, arguing over the governance and direction of the club, but recently have presented a united front as they strive to attract new finance.

Both Hicks and Gillett were present at Anfield for the Arsenal match and met with Rao's representative.

Liverpool are also understood to have held talks with a Kuwaiti investment group, led by Naffer Al Kharafi.

Liverpool went top of the Premier League on Saturday after beating Hull City 3-1, but their lead over title rivals Manchester United was short-lived as the Red Devils reclaimed the lead a few hours later with a stunning 5-2 comeback win over Tottenham Hotspur.

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