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Aug 24, 2010

Keith Harris reveals new Liverpool bidder in frame

Leading deal-broker Keith Harris has revealed that Liverpool are the subject of interest from a new mystery bidder and maintains that secrecy is an important facet of any takeover deal.

Harris was involved in negotiations that saw Roman Abramovich take control of Chelsea back in 2003, while he has also helped Aston Villa and Manchester City find new ownership in recent years. However he was not convinced by the recent efforts of Hong Kong-based businessman Kenny Huang, who pulled out of the bidding process without confirming proof of funds or indeed the identity of the backers, to take over the Anfield hotseat.

''The Chinese government involvement was always a bit far-fetched,'' Harris told the Evening Standard. ''In any takeover situation, when people resort to announcing it to the media, you have to question the seriousness of the offer. If the name of the prospective buyer comes out before the deal is done then probably it is never going to be done.

''Look at when Chelsea was sold in 2003. My firm was advising the club and we only knew of Roman Abramovich on the Thursday before the deal was completed the following Tuesday.''

Liverpool suspect that the potential new owners are waiting to grab the club for a knock-down price when the Royal Bank of Scotland faces the prospect of selling the club themselves after the October 6 deadline - when the bank's £237 million loan has to be repaid.

Despite claims that the mystery men are considering making an offer of between £400 million and £500 million, no offer has been forthcoming, and even Harris isn't sure if they are going to make a bid.

'''The overseas buyer we represent has completed due diligence,'' he said. ''A huge amount of work has been done. It is none of the groups mentioned in the press. The ball is now in our client's court to make an offer. I do not think the deal will be done before the transfer window closes this month but the next pressure point is October when some of the RBS loan of £237 million has to be repaid. It may happen then. But in the present climate these things are impossible to predict.'

A spokesman for the Liverpool board's sales process declined to comment on any specifics but did say: "We can only reiterate what we said about ten days ago that the board are evaluating a number of bids."

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