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  • A Yahoo! User Apr 30, 2008 00:40 Flag

    Bankers tell Hicks to sell! Hooray!

    From Harry Harris, Daily Express


    Tuesday April 29,2008

    AMERICAN bankers JP Morgan have told Tom Hicks “time is up” on his huge loans and are calling on the Texan to sell his 50 per cent stake in Liverpool.

    The bank is getting jittery at Hicks’ failure to raise the required capital to buy out co-owner George Gillett, who has agreed to sell his share of the club to Dubai International Capital.

    This highly significant development is a body blow to Hicks’ stubborn resistance to sell to DIC, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum taking a personal interest in the end game of their proposed Anfield takeover.

    Hicks has been eager to demonstrate his refusal to be budged from his position of power at Anfield, showing up for the Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea, waving a scarf and singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. He went to the training ground twice for talks with Rafa Benitez, and the pair have agreed a summer transfer budget.

    But there are now claims it was all a facade – that Hicks is playing hardball, merely trying to hang on for a bigger offer before selling out. He values the Hicks Sports Group – including baseball’s Texas Rangers and ice hockey franchise Dallas Stars as well as Liverpool – at £1billion, with the Premier League club making up 75 per cent of that figure. And although Royal Bankof Scotland and Wachovia financed his joint-takeover of Liverpool, it is JP Morgan who bankroll the group.

    They see a buyer and worry it may fall through

    My well-connected City source informs me Hicks is being so heavily squeezed by JP Morgan he may be forced to sell sooner rather than later, but they are sensitive to Liverpool’s bid to reach the Champions League final and will not pull the plug on Hicks’ loans until that campaign ends – tomorrow or after the final in Moscow on May 21.

    My source said: “Hicks’ bankers are getting very nervous about his ability to finance his debt. They can see a buyer for his Liverpool shares, and as there is only one out there, they are worried it might fall through. They cannot allow that to happen.

    “He owes the banks, and they want him to sell up. Hicks has had his chances to raise money, but in the current markets he has been unable to do that.

    “Hicks’ camp continue to suggest he doesn’t need to refinance until 2010, but that doesn’t add up with Hicks trying as hard as he has been for some time now to find other partners.

    “If Hicks can hold out until 2010, then he hasn’t got the personal resources to either add anything to the transfer budget or raise more loans to build the stadium. That again applies even greater pressure to his personal financial situation.”

    DIC will want to help Benitez, and thus far there is no suggestion of replacing the manager despite some weekend reports that Jose Mourinho has already been approached in a situation similar to that admitted by Hicks and Gillett, who met Jurgen Klinsmann last year.

    Sources at DIC deny they have ever “offered the job to Mourinho, or met him to discuss it” and contacted a number of Liverpool fans’ groups, including the recently-formed Spirit of Shankly organisation, to deny the speculation.

    Supporters have not forgiven Mourinho for his rhetoric and confrontational attitude towards the club over the years and DIC know if they do take over, Benitez has the fans’ backing.

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