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Liverpool to receive new bid from Singapore billionaire

Robert Peston | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 11 October 2010

The bidding contest for Liverpool FC may not be over.

I have learned that the runner-up in the contest, Peter Lim, a Singapore billionaire, is to approach Liverpool's board with a view to making a higher offer for the club.

Anfield stadium


According to sources close to Mr Lim, he was the Liverpool board's preferred bidder in the closing stages of the auction. He had discussions with Martin Broughton, Liverpool's chairman, and Christian Purslow, Liverpool's managing director, about how to announce his takeover, such was their apparent confidence that he would win the contest.

Mr Lim learned he wasn't the victor only a few hours before Mr Broughton announced on 6 October that the club would be sold to John Henry's New England Sport Ventures for £300m.

Mr Lim, who is being advised by the British firm of lawyers Macfarlanes and by the Wong Partnership of Singapore, still doesn't know why Mr Broughton went with New England Sports Ventures, owners of the Boston Red Sox.

He believes that in purely monetary terms, his offer was at least as attractive as Mr Henry's.

Mr Lim too was offering to repay all of Royal Bank of Scotland's and Wachovia's £200m of long term debt, to take on £60m of other debt, and to inject £40m of working capital.

What's more - and Mr Lim regards this as crucial - all the money being provided by him would come from his own cash resources. He is not planning to borrow any of it.

I understand he is also offering to provide tens of millions of pounds to Liverpool's manager, Roy Hodgson, to allow him to buy players when the transfer window opens in January.

According to executives close to Mr Lim, he was told by Mr Broughton that his ability to fund the takeover for cash, and the size of his cash resources, meant he was a more attractive owner than New England Sports Ventures.

Mr Lim was told that Liverpool's board was concerned that New England Sports Ventures would have to borrow to finance the takeover - raising questions about whether Liverpool really would break free from the financial shackles perceived to have been imposed by the current owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

In the event, New England Sports Ventures have insisted it will not load up Liverpool FC with debt. But there are no guarantees that there won't be significant debt further up the corporate ownership structure of New England Sports Ventures - which could limit how much money Mr Henry and his colleagues can inject into Liverpool in the future.

Mr Lim is keeping a close eye on the court case, which starts tomorrow. The case is supposed to rule on whether Mr Broughton can sell Liverpool to New England Sports Ventures against the wishes of Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett.

The Singapore billionaire believes the judgement in that case may give him an opportunity to bid again, whatever Mr Broughton may wish. Mr Lim is also prepared to buy Liverpool should it ultimately collapse into administration under UK insolvency procedures.

According to sources close to him, he feels that he may have been shut out because New England made an offer to Royal Bank of Scotland to pay some of the £40m penalty fees the banks have demanded.

If that is the case, he believes Royal Bank may have done a poor deal, because he would be prepared to pay RBS and Wachovia more than the £10m or so which New England Sports Ventures is said to have put on the table.

"He never had a chance to negotiate directly with Royal Bank" said a source. "He was expecting to do so, after agreeing the takeover with the board".

Mr Lim has an estimated net worth of $1.6bn (£1bn) according to Forbes Magazine.

He made his fortune in fashion, logistics and agri-business.

His interest in English football stems from his ownership of several Manchester United themed bars in Asia - which have persuaded him that there is huge global potential for making money from top flight English football.


  • Comment number 1.

    It would be great to see a take over at Hilsborough, for a lot less money, they will obtain a club, that has as much potential or more than that of Liverpool. I think Liverpool football club have had enough success, for their supporters to remember for quite some time. It is now some one elses turn.

  • Comment number 2.

    Robert, any chance you could pass Mr. Lim's number to Bill Kenwright?!

    Everton have far less debt (approx 60 million), and, in my opinion, a better squad (not saying we'll win on Sunday though). We have a healthy supporter base although admittedly not as recognisable globally but that didn't stop Sheik Mansour, but we do have one of the best managers in the league! Seems like a more attractive proposition to me.

    If he's not appreciated at Anfield then i'm sure Mr. Kenwright would be only to happy to discuss terms!

  • Comment number 3.

    How much tax is owed by Liverpool?
    Any deal where HMRC gets paid in full would get my approval.

  • Comment number 4.

    Given the reports that LFC have been in default on their loan for some time now how on earth Have LFC been allowed to play in Europe? Everton should be instructing a brief if this is true.

  • Comment number 5.

    Who has time for telly dramas. This is far more interesting and entertaining, because nobody has a script and it could all go in any direction.

  • Comment number 6.

    This is a great example of why fans being at least part of the shareholder base is a good idea.

    This would mean all bids would have to be presented to fans on their merits - even if fans did not have a blocking majority.

    I fully appreciate what the Chairman and his team are trying to do and do not doubt it is their best. In fact, they deserve our sincere thanks.

    But fans are too much in the dark right now. Also there's no guarantee that a small group will get it right. Look what happened last time.

    A debate among fans and in the football media would uncover anything wrong with any of the bids.

    And would it be so bad to have an open auction among a few suitors by promising transfer money etc.? Works in Spain.

    Liverpool fans are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable in the business. There's no way they would want to sell to some fly-by-night.

    If I was a fan shareholder, I'd probably vote with the Board unless I thought something was seriously wrong. But at least if I had the info, I could buy into the decision more.

  • Comment number 7.

    Liverpool's current situation is a real-world consequence of the deluded under-regulated profiteering-pressured runaway fat-commissioned lending-strategies that caused the banking collapse. When surely now faced with the fat-fee administrators coming in to troubleshoot the business, the board should have wondered why they had not taken sufficient interests and lessons from the sharp financial problems at Chelsea (Ken Bates years), Leeds Utd, Man City (Maine Road years), Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle Utd, and many others.

    The Royal bank of taxpayers must count themselves lucky that they are in position to imminently cash in and not remain as the perpetual capital holder of the seriously risky and flawed business that is Liverpool FC at this moment in time, a predicament that came via the reign of the senile dreadful-duo Hicks & Gillet when LFC had utterly failed to produce any new streams in commercial/membership development, property and stadium development, minimising the debt finance, or indeed bring through any young talents who can make the grade. Fierce arguments amongst the fans over the tactics of zonal markings must now seem a luxury.

  • Comment number 8.

    6. At 7:36pm on 11 Oct 2010, Brian Golden wrote:
    "This is a great example of why fans being at least part of the shareholder base is a good idea."

    Man U were a plc and the fans could not sell fast enough to a Yankee with dollars. A bunch of sheep with 5 second memories. Edwards out, Magnier out, Galzer out...................

    One of the few businesses in the work where the business can routinely abuse their customers and they come back time and agin for more.

    They deserve all they get.

  • Comment number 9.

    1.Liverpool football PLC is going bust.

    2.Nothing new here.

    3.Musical chair starts.

  • Comment number 10.

    >>>which have persuaded him that there is huge global potential for making money from top flight English football.

    LOL .What is that top flight ?

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't care. It's only a football club.

    Why didn't Robert make a similar fuss when the state owned Korean National Oil Company staged a hostile takeover of Dana Petroleum?

  • Comment number 12.

    If this is indeed true, that Lim, was the frontrunner until the last few hours. I would really like to know Broughton's reasoning as to why NESV was chosen over Lim, in the end?

  • Comment number 13.

    Go with the Singapore deal. I was in Singapore last year and they love their football and they love Liverpool FC.

  • Comment number 14.

    please let liverpool go under please

  • Comment number 15.

    No. 8 - Know what you are saying but Man Utd was dominated by institutional investors only interested in a fast buck. Thats the plc route. I wasnt advocating that.

    I mean fans having a shareholding and at least one Board seat and a small number of other shareholders with a more long term view than investors holding shares that can be bought and sold in seconds.

  • Comment number 16.

    Forget the Americans. Go for the Singapore bid!! I hope they do, fingers crossed.

    I cannot stand Americans after what they've done to our club. Why would we want to take on more of them?

  • Comment number 17.

    So if Peter Lim buys the club, what happens to the £140m that the club owes to G&H? Will that be paid off?

    If that debt is not serviced will they call in administrators to get that £140m?
    In any event, The Premier League will still not dock Liverpool any points (unless, maybe, Liverpool finish more than 9 points above relegation. That way the Premier League might avoid court action from relegated teams, and keep egg-on-face to a minimum).

    Post #14, I think you might be dissappointed.
    But if Mr Lim buys, and you wait until football takes off in the far East, then perhaps he might move the club to an Asian league in Singapore, and sell the stadium to Tesco.
    How does that sound?

  • Comment number 18.

    When Preston gets involved in things, you know its pretty bad.

  • Comment number 19.

    Surely the board recommends a bid but the shareholders do not have to accept it? In this case if they do not accept the redsox offer they live with the consequence which might mean administration BUT if they believe a better offer is available why not reject the one on the table even though it is recommended by the board? Equally is there anything to stop Mr Lim appealing over the board direct to the owners? Am I missing something here?

  • Comment number 20.

    #17: I thought the whole idea was that H&G will make a loss selling at £300M, thats why they want to hold on and sell at a higher price. However, Liverpool will never go now for more than £300M, esp when H&G are after £500-600M! H&G thought they can come in, lie and earn a buck before legging it but they mis-judged badly. Theres never going to be a new stadium! Parry knows this, he went and took the money like £80M.

    H&G will never get that £280M to cover and cannot get the board members removed, even RBS is on their case. H&G have no friends in the UK. They are as good as gone. Its all about damage control now for Liverpool FC.

  • Comment number 21.

    There was one interesting potential import from USA ball games - that is that they have an agreed maximum wage for players.

    The other idea should be that teams from places should (exclusively? or substantially) have players from those places.

    The German league has another good idea and that is that the supporters should have a controlling interest in the club.

    On Liverpool: are they not in danger of getting demoted from the premier league if they are forced into administration (-9 points) and this is combined with their recent disappointing form!

    Of course the real problem is the governance of the Football League - they have stood by while money has become supreme at the expense of supporters and British football.

  • Comment number 22.

    What sort of reporter lets a person such as Philip Green make claims that he pays £12 million pounds a DAY in tax without making challenge on the figures given, id bet everything i own that he does not pay £84 million pounds a week in tax its a ridiculopus figure to claim and why did the ego that is preston not challenge such a figure

  • Comment number 23.

    Fans will just have to vote with their money and not pay for Sky Sports, not buy season tickets and not buy or wear those overpriced football shirts with their ridiculous advertising.
    Re-discover your own identity.
    Or have you been bought but you're paying (lots)?

  • Comment number 24.

    Is the offer before or after the 9 point deduction ???

    Man Utd can't be far away from above , one bad season and I think they will be in Liverpool's place.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    #20, I can certainly believe H&G have close to zero friends in the UK, and even fewer friends in Liverpool.

    But H#G are, as I understand it, still legal owners/shareholders and Liverpool still owe them (or Kop Holdings) about £140m. That debt is not a number that will magically disappear with change of ownership. If a creditor does not get paid, then don't they have recourse to law?
    i.e. they go to a judge who will get the administration ball rolling. If formal administration happens then, yes, I would expect them to get none of it back.

    Isn't this just what the Premier League rules are designed to prevent: Clubs writing off debt by administration, an immediate "re-birth", and voila, "with one bound they were free"?

    So does Peter Lim want to negotiate with H&G or does he want to buy Liverpool with 9 points less at the end of the season?

    Or does the Premier league want to pretend the problem doesn't exist, and tough it out, knowing they are flagrantly breaking their own rules and that this might have legal consequences at the end of the season?
    (The Premier League probably won't have many friends amongst Hick & Gillette.)

  • Comment number 27.

    No 22 It is possible that the Arcadia group he owns does pay £84m a week in taxes since he was referring not just to corporation tax but to VAT and employee taxes as well. The group turns over £2bn per annum and made a pre tax profit of over £200m.

  • Comment number 28.

    My ending would be Hicks and Gillete wins the court case, but RBS will not allow them time and Mr Lim might pay these Yanks few extra bucks to take the club.

    Which is still not bad.

    Look what was Liverpool debt when it was sold to these to Yanks. Now my worry is that NESV are doing the same what Hicks & Gillete did that was borrow the money to buy the club. I do not see much hope in this take over. If as Mr Lim stated that he will pay the debt from his own pocket with cash that will be a better proposal for the club.

  • Comment number 29.

    26. At 11:09pm on 11 Oct 2010, thefrogstar wrote:

    H#G are, as I understand it, still legal owners/shareholders and Liverpool still owe them (or Kop Holdings) about £140m.

    From what I have read recently the intercompany loans from Kop holdings to lfc of £140M were converted to equity in the club at the insistence of RBS at the last round of refinancing.

    So if they sell for £300m this covers debts to rbs and Wachovia and little else.

  • Comment number 30.

    The amount of drivel i read on these pages is astounding. If you don't know anything about the subject then why comment on it.
    #1 WHAT!!! I like Shef.W. and i wish them all the best with their problems, but " as much potential or more than that of Liverpool" Grow up.
    #2 How many times has your "better squad" finished above ours?
    #3 No tax is owed as far as i know, there is no issue with HMRC.
    #4 LFC are not in default as RBS extended the loan. They failed to make the original deadline and had to agree to several of RBS's demands before they would extend it.
    #7 The one and only good thing that G&H did was to employ purslow and ayres who have increased LFC turnover by 80%
    #9 Livepoolfc is an extremely profitable club/business. Kop Holdings is going bust.
    #12 Broughton has chosen the bidders that he thinks will be best for LFC. NESV are experienced in taking sports clubs and making them successful ON the field as well as off.
    #14 I'd sooner see you go under.
    #16 To tar all americans with the same brush is just childish. These new guys could be just what LFC need.
    #17 H&G invested £140m into the club. The club does not owe them anything.
    #19 The board have the power to sell the club. This was part of the refinance deal with RBS. For this reason also H&G could not accept a bid from Lim without the board agreeing.
    #24 There is no 9 point deduction.

  • Comment number 31.

    Frying pan and fire come to mind.... the higher the stakes the bigger the crash when it comes for all those clubs.

    The glory game died a long time ago--- and the once-upon-a-time stories about players have been replaced by spreadsheets, and a gnawing desire not for a great night of cup football; but please let's just find an even bigger sugar daddy to find OUR team, than the other lot have got.

    it's hard to look back on the great spreadsheets you were there to see and the unforgettable night profits went through the £100M mark (and ever more difficult to actually sit through more and more of what used to be called 'Great Nights of European football!!" as the displacement effect of billions of pounds sends the boredom level soaring)---about as hard as it is to get off a bobsleigh safely when it's halfway down the track, which is where our 'national game' is right now.

    Liverpool, Manchester, Chelsea,and the rest are all together in the same bobsleigh doing a hundred miles an hour without any brakes left .. at least it'll be good television when they crash.

  • Comment number 32.

    #30 - Crazy horse, I didn't ask for YOUR interpretation of Broughton's reasoning for his choice. I merely pointed out, that I would like to hear HIS reasoning, which is, with all due respect, far more relevant.

  • Comment number 33.

    These foreigners must think that Britain is a nation of Kop sheepers that wish to sell their woolly jumpers to the highest bidder.

    The interesting thing about football is that the minimum reserve ratio is 1/12 ,something that the bankers should take note of when they next field their FA team.

  • Comment number 34.

    OK, thanks Darren (#29),
    That clears it up a bit, if that is the case (and the high court agrees to the rest). Similar to what Roman A. has done at Chelsea, and what Mr Lim is allegedly offering.

    Though I guess they could all change their minds, to the extent that they just need to find a bank stupid enough to lend more money than the clubs are ever going to be worth. (Now where would I go to find a bank like that?).

    #33, Nice turn of phrase.

  • Comment number 35.

    Who cares ... the premier league is now mainly a league for get mega rich mainly foreign players. Yawn!
    If and when Liverpool crash out of the premiership ... some will call for changes.

  • Comment number 36.

    Is the phrase 'too big to fail' not being quoted yet?
    With 9 points off and most of the season to go would Liverpool go down? Was that not a saying the the second best team in the country was the Liverpool reserves?
    With the major players having to be sold off for the debt, just a mo, wont the club then have no debts if they go insolvent? A new re start and incentive to play on?

    The new world order, nothing is sure other than change and no emotion about saving jobs ...... well in the real world. Call the bluff of the bank, the banks called our bluff and see where we are now!

  • Comment number 37.

    22. At 10:27pm on 11 Oct 2010, mark predeth wrote:
    What sort of reporter lets a person such as Philip Green make claims that he pays £12 million pounds a DAY in tax without making challenge on the figures given, id bet everything i own that he does not pay £84 million pounds a week in tax its a ridiculopus figure to claim and why did the ego that is preston not challenge such a figure


    I think your comment is "ridiculopus" to use your own words. You also seem to confuse Robert PESTON...

  • Comment number 38.

    @30 Crazy Horse


    The amount of drivel i read on these pages is astounding. If you don't know anything about the subject then why comment on it.

    #4 LFC are not in default as RBS extended the loan. They failed to make the original deadline and had to agree to several of RBS's demands before they would extend it.

    #9 Livepoolfc is an extremely profitable club/business. Kop Holdings is going bust.


    Under Uefa rules, to compete in Europe you have to prove that you have the funds to cover the entire season ahead and are are on a sound financial footing. Clearly, with Broughton as pseudo-administrator on behalf of RBS LFC's finances have been questionable for some time. Now the chickens have come home to roost it is obvious that they should not have been allowed to enter the competition. I think Everton would have a good case.

    You laughably talk of people posting drivel and then state that LFC are an extremely profitable club. In case you don't know take a look at LFC's last set of accounts where you will discover that they made a loss of £14m.

  • Comment number 39.

    Post 30

    Before the 1960's Liverpool were no more successfull than Wednesday, you are still living on past memories from the Shankly era. We have just been badly run as a football club for so long, but that will either change or they will end up merging with the other side in the City.

    30 million pounds would wipe out the debt at Wednesday and propel them into the Premiership, the lift it will give the supporters, would be tremendous. Spend another 270 million on the club, plus all the extra revenue generated in the Premiership.

    Its a no brainer who has more potential. Liverpool will have to wait a long time for more trophies, Wednesday or a Sheffield club will have an era like Liverpool and Manchester eventually, once things move forward.

    6 million people live within a 40 minute drive of Sheffield, so there will be a lot of glory seaking supporters, like Liverpool and Manchester Utd have.

  • Comment number 40.

    Much as I care about the plight of Liverpool football club it is regrettable, and crazy that so many fans here want investors to take over their own club rather than LFC (such as the Sheffield and Everton fans). I want decent investment so that LFC can survive and compete on the pitch (which they can't at the moment).
    What does this tell us about the state of football?
    We have all become spectators of business and international finance. Football has devolved into speculation about business dealings rather than men (and women) kicking a ball about and entertaining us. Intriguing though this story is, its yet another example of how the movement of money has infiltrated popular culture and left it devoid of meaning. Liverpool's successes were originally based on genius management and strong support - which is why the potential success of Man City would be so hollow. They may eventually entertain, but they haven't really earned it.
    As I said, I love Liverpool - largely because of its footballing culture, but the best two teams in the league (and it pains me to say this) are Everton, because David Moyes is a great manager and they are consistently good, and Arsenal, again because Wenger has a great philosophy and they have managed to succeed and really entertain without a great deal of financial clout.
    Its sad to witness this childish charade in which "success" in a sport is decided by the actions of the money men. Its like playing football when I was a kid and all the biggest, best players wanted to be on the same side and rigged it so that they could line up against the rest. Its why we love giant killers like Blackpool.
    This is considered an outdated view now in a world in which we are all economists, but I think it needs reiterating and that British football needs to get back to what really matters. I'd rather see Liverpool play like Arsenal and finish seventh than pay their way to the top. And I'd rather see LFC owned by its fans than these strangers for whom the fans and the footballing culture are a secondary concern.

  • Comment number 41.

    So if Lim is offering an extra £20 million does that cash go to Hicks and Gillett?

    Or will it go towards some other debts of Liverpool? and if so how much would someone have to pay befor the Yanks start seeing a return?

  • Comment number 42.


    38. At 08:51am on 12 Oct 2010, rocketracer69 wrote:

    You laughably talk of people posting drivel and then state that LFC are an extremely profitable club. In case you don't know take a look at LFC's last set of accounts where you will discover that they made a loss of £14m.

    Now try taking a closer look at those accounts and you'll see the bit where it says that approximately £40m is taken up each year to service Kop Holdings debt. Put this back into the pot and even by your reckoning that means they are approximately £26m in profit each year.
    As i said If you don't know anything about the subject then why comment on it.


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