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Aug 5, 2010

Chinese government targets Liverpool deal

Soccernet has had it confirmed from sources close to the Liverpool takeover bid that Kenny Huang is backed by the China Investment Corporation (CIC), an investment arm of the Chinese Government which owns a stake in Canary Wharf.

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Chairman Martin Broughton is hoping to complete a sale of the club before the end of the month with several interested parties having come forward. According to reports in several of Thursday morning's newspapers, the rival offer from Syrian Yahya Kirdi will not be successful.

Current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were said to favour the interest from Kirdi as they would be able to walk away from Anfield with a profit.

CIC, which invests China's cash reserves in foreign countries, is only willing to repay to debt to Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays Capital, leaving the North American duo with no return on their investment. But they are believed to be at the top of Broughton's list of interested parties.

Representatives of Kirdi have claimed to be "in the final stage of negotiation" but that appears to be wide of the mark, with the CIC bid - spearheaded by businessman Kenny Huang - at the head of the queue.

Huang's representatives are remaining tight-lipped on where their money is coming from.

"We will not confirm or deny any matter in relation to the Liverpool Football Club unless and until we and the representatives of Liverpool FC have chosen to do so jointly,'' said a spokesman for the Hong Kong-based businessman.

CIC is said to have assets of £209 billion, which would allay fears over the funding of the deal. The Times claims manager Roy Hodgson will be given £150 million to spend.

The Guardian reports that CIC has spent the past fortnight selling shares in other companies to free up the precise amount of cash to clear Liverpool's debt. The report states: "In a series of trades since July 19, CIC has sold $558 million of shares in Morgan Stanley, equating to £351.4 million. That sum is equivalent to Liverpool's debt to the nearest decimal place, and is exactly the number insiders say has been quoted to interested parties as the sale price."

CIC's website states: "CIC strives to contribute to the prosperity and development of local economies. CIC usually does not seek an active role in the companies in which it invests nor attempts to influence those companies' operations. CIC seeks long-term, stable, sustainable, and risk-adjusted return."

New York based Rhone Group and the Al-Kharafi family from Kuwait are also said to be in negotiations.

Hodgson has warned Liverpool that the ongoing uncertainty over the club's ownership will not represent an excuse for failure this season.

He said: "As a player you have a chance to change things around here. I won't go down the ownership route other than to say we know the ones we have now are very unpopular. That's well documented - they know it and that's why they are prepared to sell.

"But if you don't think that the team is doing as well as it should, then as a player you can do something about it. We want our big players doing well. If they are not, I shall be advising them to look in the mirror and not to constantly look for excuses elsewhere and blame the owners for not having spent £500 million.

"I am sceptical about comments in which players are questioning the club's ambition. I would tend to throw that back at them and say that the club's ambitions rest in your hands, you're the ones playing for us and you're the ones people are paying to watch.

"If we look at Real Madrid last season, they spent an absolute fortune on two or three players and it still didn't get them what they wanted. They didn't win the Champions League. They didn't get to the semi-finals and they didn't win their league or the Spanish Cup. I rest my case.''

Hodgson is not concerned by the possibility his comments could upset the club's big-name players, and continued: "I'd tell the players of the highest echelon to look in mirrors and analyse their performance. I am not fearful of doing that.

"We will push the players and some of them won't like it, but my sympathy always lies with them and in my 36 years in management I have not been let down very often, so I must be right in my experience of trusting them.''

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