August 22 – Liverpool could be the next Premier League club to come under Chinese ownership if a reported bid of £800 million is accepted by American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
This is the second time in recent months FSG have said that they have not received a bid for the club from China, the first time the offer was reportedly emailed and not taken seriously.
This time the rumour looks to have more substantiation being said to come from Chinese state-owned firm Everbright and private equity firm PCP Capital Partners. Club insiders are also reported to have said a bid has been received.
PCP is run by Amanda Staveley who was involved in brokering Sheikh Mansour’s acquisition of of Manchester City. She was previously involved in an attempt to buy Liverpool when Dubai International Capital unsuccessfully tried to acquire a stake in the club in 2008.
Fenway acquired Liverpool for £300 million in 2010 and had to invest substantially in the squad and club infrastructure at that time. A bid of that size will be hard for FSG to ignore, reporesenting more than a doubling of their money in six years.
FSG has most recently financed the expansion of Anfield to a 54,000 capacity stadium as part of a £250 million local redevelopment scheme. The club plays its first league game in the revamped stadium September 10.
Las week Liverpool chairman Tom Werner told the Liverpool Echo that the club was “not for sale”. That has been reiterated by FSG, but they have previously said they might take a smaller strategic investment in the club.
Last December Manchester City parent company City Football Group sold a £265 million, 13% stake. Since then Chinese investors have taken control of West Bromwich Albion (£150 million est.) in the Premier League as well as Aston Villa (£45 million) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (£50 million) in the Championship.
Hull City, promoted back to the Premier League this season and currently joint top on points after two matches, are also understood to be negotiation with Chinese buyers.
In Europe both Milan clubs – AC Milan (€740 million) and Internazionale (€750 million) – sold to Chinese investment groups last month. Last week France’s Olympique Lyonnais sold a 20% stake for €100 million to Chinese investors.
Liverpool would be a prize asset for Chinese investors. The club had revenues of £339 million in the 2014-15 season, reporting a profit of £60 million pre-tax profit, most of that due to the £75 million sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
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