Liverpool deny club is for sale amid takeover reports

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The cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour reportedly made a world-record bid to purchase the Reds

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group insist the club is not for sale following reports of a failed £2 billion ($2.6bn) takeover attempt from an Abu Dhabi consortium earlier this year.

A report in the Daily Mail on Thursday stated that Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan, the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, approached representatives of the Reds’ American owners in late 2017, with a view to a world-record buy-out of the Anfield club.

Tom Werner, the Liverpool chairman, is understood to have met with Midhat Kidwai, managing director for Sheik Mansour’s conglomerate of companies, in New York. Goal understands that the meeting was informal and that Sheikh Khaled’s “proposal of interest” was handled, as all such proposals are, by Allen and Company, the New York-based investment bank hired by FSG to advise on numerous issues, including investment enquiries.

Liverpool insist that the Abu Dhabi proposal never got past Allen and Company’s vetting stage, and that the club’s major shareholders, John W. Henry and Mike Gordon, were not involved in any talks or negotiations over a sale. They deny the claim that a £2bn valuation was “agreed” with Sheikh Khaled, who is understood to have been working in tandem with a minority-stake Chinese partner.

A Liverpool club spokesperson said: “FSG have been clear and consistent in their stance that the club is not for sale. What the ownership have said – again clearly and consistently – is that ‘under the right terms and conditions we would consider taking on a minority investor, if such a partnership was to further our commercial interests in specific marketplaces and in line with the continued development and growth of the club and the team.’”

FSG have indeed been consistent in their message that Liverpool is not for sale. In August 2016 they dismissed reports that they were planning to sell “a substantial shareholding” in the club to financial services conglomerate China Everbright. That valued the shareholding at around £800m ($1.02bn) but FSG insisted it was never seriously considered.

In October 2017, meanwhile, Werner dismissed reports that a consortium led by Amanda Staveley, the Dubai-based financier, had made a £1.5bn ($1.9bn) takeover bid and that FSG had pulled the plug "at the eleventh hour."

“We have better things to do than batting down rumours about negotiations with Ms Staveley,” Werner told the Liverpool ECHO then.

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“However, there's no truth to them.”

The Americans, as New England Sports Ventures, bought the Reds in October 2010, paying £300m ($384m) to do so. They have since seen revenues soar, reaching a record £364.5m ($467m) in the latest figures released by Deloitte back in January, which account for the 2016-17 season.

That placed them inside the world’s top 10 clubs, with last season’s run to the Champions League final, and the Premier League’s bumper new TV rights deal, likely to further swell revenues in the coming months and years. 

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