Canadiens owner Gillett poised to buy Liverpool

January 31, 2007

LONDON -- Dubai International Capital (DIC) said on Wednesday it had pulled out of takeover talks with Liverpool after it was unable to agree to terms with the club's board, opening the door for U.S. businessman and Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett to purchase the storied Premier League team.

Dubai International Capital said a "comprehensive offer" had been accepted in principle by Liverpool majority shareholder David Moores after the company, the investment arm of the Dubai government, had completed its due diligence.

However it added that "it appears that the Liverpool Board and the majority shareholder David Moores were unable to approve these terms in order to allow DIC to make a formal offer to all shareholders."

Moores has a 51.5 percent stake in Liverpool and had been looking to sell some or all of his shares.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported earlier that the Liverpool directors had met in London on Tuesday to consider a rival bid from Gillett.

DIC executive chairman and chief executive Sameer Al Ansari said the company, which has been holding talks with Liverpool since early December, was disappointed.

"Liverpool's investment requirements have been well publicized and, after a huge amount of work, we proposed a deal that would provide the club with the funds it needs, both on and off the pitch," DIC said.

"We were also prepared to offer shareholders a significant premium on the market price of the shares. However, we will not overpay for assets."

Liverpool, the 2005 European champions, won their 18th and most recent Premier League title in 1990 and took the FA Cup in 2006. The team has been looking for a buyer to help fund construction of a new stadium and compete financially with big-spending clubs Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

If Gillett's bid is accepted, he would become the third U.S. owner of a Permier League club. Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner purchased Aston Villa last year, and Malcolm Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a controlling interest in Manchester United.

Reuters contributed to this report.