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Page last updated at 20:31 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Kuwaiti group denies Reds reports

Liverpool owners George Gillett (left) and Tom Hicks
Gillett (left) and Hicks may now be willing to sell

A Kuwaiti business group has denied reports it is in talks with the owners of Liverpool over a possible takeover.

Reds co-owner Tom Hicks had reportedly been in talks with Kuwait billionaire Nasser Al-Kharafi, who has an estimated 9bn fortune.

But Kharafi Group vice-president Loay Al-Kharafi has insisted no talks were held and the reports were incorrect.

Reports on Merseyside have suggested a prominent European businessman has also expressed an interest in Liverpool.

The reign of Hicks and his co-owner George Gillett, who value the club at around 550m, has been dogged by controversy since their 218m takeover in February 2007.

Benitez not distracted by off-field issues

BBC Sport understands that even though the relationship between Hicks and Gillett has been troubled, they may be united in their desire to sell at the right price.

And they are clearly on the look-out for new investors at the very least, even if Hicks stands by his intention of retaining a stake in the club.

The pair have appointed rival banks to try and find potential buyers, Merrill Lynch are on board with Hicks and Rothschilds with Gillett.

Their regime has become deeply unpopular among fans after early optimism, and the US tycoons have just been given an extra six months to repay a 350m loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia.

The current economic climate has left both banks in desperate trouble and any further refinancing is unlikely, while no other bank would be willing to offer such a loan.


Manager Rafael Benitez had public differences with the owners, who admitted they met former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann when doubts emerged over his future.

Hicks also demanded the resignation of chief executive Rick Parry last season after labelling his time in charge "a disaster".

The pair's plans for a new stadium have also stalled after spiralling costs meant it would cost around 450m rather than the original estimate of 300m.

Benitez is currently locked in a contract wrangle with the Anfield hierarchy as he demands greater control over transfers at the club.

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see also
Benitez turns down contract offer
16 Jan 09 |  Liverpool
Gillett hits back at Hicks in row
17 Apr 08 |  Liverpool
Parry hits back at Anfield owner
11 Apr 08 |  Liverpool
Hicks calls for Parry resignation
10 Apr 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool co-owner reveals split
28 Mar 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool downgrade stadium plan
18 Dec 07 |  Liverpool

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