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Dubai says Liverpool club talks stuck on valuation

Dubai, March 4, 2008

A Dubai government-run investment fund said on Tuesday its talks with Liverpool football club's US owners about buying a stake were stuck as one of the club owners "was in dreamland" about valuations.

"It's no secret that we have been in discussions with the current owners," Dubai International Capital (DIC) chief executive Sameer al-Ansari told reporters at a conference.

"It's not easy because the owners are in dreamland about valuations at the moment," said Ansari of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. He later clarified that one of the club's owners "had come out of dreamland", without giving further details.

Hicks said last month he was not planning to sell a stake in the English Premier League soccer club, denying press speculation that he was in talks with DIC over a sale.

The Times, without citing a source for the information, said on Tuesday that DIC was confident Gillett would accept its offer of 200 million pounds ($397 million) for his 50 percent of the club, but said there were claims that Hicks was ready to exercise his option to buy out Gillett's stake.

Hicks said in January he had talked to DIC "once" about a 10-15 percent stake but Dubai said at the time the valuation was too high.

Hicks and Gillett completed a refinancing deal in January that should allow them to go ahead with the building of a new stadium on parkland adjacent to the club's current Anfield home, though the plans have changed and been delayed several times.

DIC had been considering a bid for the club last year before pulling out. DIC, which manages about $13 billion of assets, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai's ruler.

DIC said in November it had made a "substantial investment" in Sony Corp. Other recent purchases include German-based speciality alumina products company Almatis and a 9.9 percent stake in US hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management.

Gulf investors, benefiting from a five-fold increase in oil prices in the past six years, announced more than $70 billion of foreign acquisitions last year, more than the previous two years combined.

The European Commission has put forward principles it wants included in a voluntary code of conduct for sovereign wealth funds, seeking more transparency. - Reuters




Tags: Dubai | DIC | Liverpool |

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