The Times tonight reported that Kenneth Huang was bidding to take control of Liverpool FC. Tony Evans, Football Editor of The Times, has kindly given us permission to reproduce the story here.
Exclusive: Chinese in a hurry to take control of Liverpool
Tony Evans, Football Editor, and Tony Barrett
Liverpool’s ownership battle picked up pace yesterday when it emerged that a Chinese tycoon was in negotiation with Royal Bank of Scotland to take control of the club.
Kenny Huang, who is partnered by one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the Far East, is determined to wrest control from Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr before the transfer window closes. Last month, Huang made approaches to a number of key figures at Anfield to emphasise the seriousness of the bid in an attempt to forestall a summer exodus of players.
Fernando Torres, who reports back to training today, will be asked to delay any decision on his future until the outcome of the takeover bid is known.
Liverpool have been up for sale since April, when the American owners appointed Martin Broughton, the British Airways chairman, to oversee any deal. However, last week, no viable bidder had come forward and Broughton has not moved the process on.
Hicks and Gillett took over three years ago in a leveraged buyout and owe RBS about £237 million. Hicks has consistently quoted an asking price of £800 million club but business analysts consider this unrealistic, with £325 million a more reasonable figure.
The approach by Huang guarantees RBS the repayment of the vast majority of the loan because the bid guarantees to clear Liverpool’s debt.
Huang, who was first linked with a buyout at Liverpool two years ago, has an impressive track record as head of QSL Sports Limited, a Hong Kong-based investment company. He was instrumental in taking Yao Ming, the basketball superstar, to the Houston Rockets in the NBA.
Sources close to Huang said that he was eager to push the Liverpool deal through to make use of the transfer window. Roy Hodgson, the manager, would be given funds to add to a squad that dropped out of the top four and the Champions League places last season.
As well as generating revenue, Huang plans to build a new stadium as quickly as possible. The Americans made a similar promise in February 2007, pledging that ground would be broken on the Stanley Park site within 60 days, but work has still not started.