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By ESPN Staff

Blackstone rule out backing Hicks Liverpool bid

The future ownership of Liverpool appears as uncertain as ever after the investment group Blackstone ruled out financially backing the club's current co-owner Tom Hicks.

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Blackstone's GSO Capital Partners had held talks with the Texan over providing the cash to allow him to pay off the £237 million owed to the Royal Bank of Scotland - and that figure is likely to be significantly higher due to penalty fees - before the mid-October deadline and remain in control of the club.

Hicks has reportedly been close to agreeing a £280 million two-year deal which would see him buy out co-owner George Gillett and remain in charge of the club. Blackstone opened talks with Hicks some weeks ago but have now decided against any deal.

The latest development means it is back to square one for Hicks, who is taking the active role in seeking out refinancing the debt they took out to buy the club for £219 million in 2007.

Hicks now has to decide whether to try and come up with an alternative proposal or just accept that he must sell up, with Liverpool's board already expressing their opposition to the Texan's plans.

The board, led by chairman Martin Broughton, instructed lawyers Slaughter & May to review the club's legal position in the summer when they blocked Hicks' previous refinancing plans. The fear then, as now, is that Hicks would heap more debt repayments on the club and further cripple their already strained finances.

The search for a new owner, which was meant to have gone into overdrive when Broughton was appointed as an independent chairman in April, also appears to have stalled. The main problem holding up a sale continues to be the value that Hicks and Gillett have put on the club.

Hicks in particular is wanting to maximise any profit and had put a price tag of £600 million for a sale despite being advised that they are unlikely to get anything above £400 million.


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