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Liverpool's day in the dock as second bidder emerges

Singapore billionaire Peter Lim comes forward with a revised offer – as RBS and Tom Hicks go to court.

A Hillsborough memorial outside Anfield. Liverpool's resale could be confirmed by Britain's High Court this morning if the Royal Bank of Scotland wins its challenge against current co-owner Tom Hicks.
A Hillsborough memorial outside Anfield. Liverpool's resale could be confirmed by Britain's High Court this morning if the Royal Bank of Scotland wins its challenge against current co-owner Tom Hicks.
Image: AP Photo/Jon Super

Updated 11.57

THE SECOND BIDDER who last week lodged an offer to buy beleaguered Liverpool FC has come forward with an improved offer to acquire the club – on the same day that its biggest creditor goes to court in an attempt to force one of its current co-owners to sell up.

Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim – who was one of the two parties to lodge ‘credible’ bids to purchase the club, the other being New England Sports Ventures (NESV) – has outbid the latter’s £300m offer.

The Guardian reports the bid as being £300m (in cash) with a further £200m to repay the debt the club holds from Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s takeover, while Sporting Intelligence puts the bid at £320m, with a further £40m to be put lodged in the transfer kitty.

What’s more, Lim says he will be prepared to stand by the bid should NESV pull out, lose its High Court action this morning, or if the club is forced into administration after its loans become due on Friday.

The Guardian says Lim had made his intentions clear in a letter to the club’s board received early yesterday.

Lim will be unable to force his way into proceedings unless NESV first decide to back out, however, as the board has already signed an agreement to advocate the NESV purchase while the American consortium remains interested. Should RBS win this morning’s case, therefore, Lim’s offer is immaterial.

Court 16, right after ‘Slutsker v Haron Investments’

The case – to be heard by Justice Floyd in Court 16 at the Royal Courts of Justice today, though there are six cases ahead of RBS v Hicks in the list – centres around whether or not Hicks and Gillett gave club chairman Martin Broughton the sole authority to change the membership of the board.

If the court finds that they did, then the board (under Broughton’s constitution) will have approved NESV’s takeover; if Hicks and Gillett can still make changes themselves, the newly-constituted board would have blocked the move.

Hicks, who was opposing the sale because it would see him leave the club with a £72m loss, may now tell the court that NESV’s takeover offer is less than he could otherwise secure, and that a higher valuation of the club would be beneficial to the club as a going concern.

RBS’s loans to Liverpool have already expired, it has emerged, meaning that technically the club is already in default – thought the bank had given the club a certain grace period which expires on October 15 – three days’ time. RBS is taking its court case with Broughton’s blessing, believing that a takeover provides the best hope for it to recoup the loans.

Lim, a former stockbroker who has cultivated a massive investment empire, ironically owns a chain of Manchester United-branded cafés in the Far East.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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