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Oct 13, 2010

Hicks takes action to block Liverpool takeover

A Texas court issued a temporary restraining order to prevent New England Sports Ventures completing a deal to take over Liverpool on Wednesday night.

• Forum: What is Liverpool's goal?
Hicks and Gillett lose case
NESV claim ''binding agreement''
Raynor: New era beckons
• Liverpool blog: The sale process starts
• Gallery: Anfield ownership
• First XI: Merseyside derby moments

John W Henry arrived at the Liverpool board meeting just before it kicked off at 8pm on Wednesday, clearly intent on pushing through his £300 million deal to buy the club, having earlier in the day announced his group had a "binding agreement".

But Tom Hicks is determined to halt the sale and the legal action could derail the deal, which the co-owners consider to be an "epic swindle", although it remains unclear whether the court has any jurisdiction over this issue.

Hicks and George Gillett are claiming over £1 billion damages and their intervention came just minutes before the sale to NESV was due to be announced.

The restraining order was signed by Judge Jim Jordan of the 160th District Court in Dallas and the Texas State District Court set a hearing date of October 25.

A statement from the Hicks camp read: "RBS has been complicit in this scheme with the Director Defendants. For example, in letters from RBS to potential investors obtained just within the past few days, RBS has informed investors that it will approve of a deal only if there is 'no economic return to equity' for Messrs. Hicks and Gillett.

"In furtherance of this grand conspiracy, on information and belief, RBS has improperly used its influence as the club's creditor and as a worldwide banking leader to prevent any transaction that would permit Messrs. Hicks and Gillett to recover any of their initial investment in the club, much less share in the substantial appreciation in the value of Liverpool FC that their investments have created.

"On or about October 4, 2010, Mr. Hicks received a letter of interest from a third potential purchaser represented by FBR Capital Markets ('FBR'), offering to purchase Liverpool FC for £375 to £400 million ($595 to $635 million). The letter informed Mr. Hicks that the potential purchaser would not need financing, possessed the funds to close the transaction, and intended to build a new stadium for Liverpool FC.

"Additionally, the Plaintiffs learned just days ago about another potential investor that made a similar offer in the £350 to £400 million range that was communicated to Defendant Broughton and another unnamed co-conspirator in late August.

"According to this investor, Mr. Broughton never responded to the offer. Moreover, when the purported sale to NESV was announced, this investor again contacted Mr. Broughton and informed him that the offer, which significantly exceeded the NESV offer, was still on the table. Again, Mr. Broughton brushed this offer aside without further discussion."

Chairman Martin Broughton sought legal advice about whether the Liverpool board could ratify the NESV takeover ahead of the meeting at the offices of the club's lawyers, Slaughter and May. Henry went straight into meetings with lawyers and the finance advisors, and told Sky Sports News he was "pretty confident" of the deal going through.

The prospective owners had already announced that they believe the deal will go through following the court case that saw the Royal Bank of Scotland's injunction upheld.

Broughton, reacting to whether the NESV takeover can now go through, said outside the court earlier on Wednesday: "We will take legal advice on that. We will get the board reconstituted by 8pm and we plan to have a board meeting soon after that, and we will continue the sale process."

Immediately after the victory in the High Court on Wednesday morning, Henry's group claimed victory in the purchase of Liverpool FC, reiterating that there is a binding agreement over the takeover.

Keith Edleman, who resigned his post at Arsenal in 2008 after eight years as the managing director and who was pivotal in the move to Emirates Stadium, is believed to have joined Henry at the meeting, and might be a candidate for a leading role inside Anfield if the takeover goes through. ESPNsoccernet understands Edleman has been working as an advisor to the Liverpool board.

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