August 22, 2010

Huang Withdraws Bid for Liverpool Soccer Club

American won't make a bid after all for 6th most valuable soccer franchise

On Friday, August 20, QSL Sports, the Chinese investment company led by Chinese-born U.S. citizen Kenny Huang, said it won't make a bid after all for Liverpool Football Club, the storied English soccer club that has been owned since 2007 by Americans George Gillett Jr. and Thomas Hicks. Forbes reported that the 2007 acquisition valued the club at $431 million, but that the "leveraged takeover led to debts of about $540 million in the last published accounts." Hicks and Gillett hired a new chairman, Martin Broughton, in April 2010 to search for a buyer for the English Premier League (EPL) team; QSL is said to have been one of four potential acquirers.

In its annual ranking of the most valuable sports franchises around the world, Forbes ranked Liverpool No. 6, valuing the club at $822 million (it was ranked fifth in 2009), behind Manchester United, Real Madrid of Spain's La Liga, EPL club Arsenal, Barcelona of La Liga, and Bayern Munich of Germany's Bundesliga. The "value" of a team is defined by Forbes as a team's equity plus its net debt.

Bloomberg reported that QSL issued a statement August 20 saying that "We concluded that a plan that properly capitalizes the business and provides funds for a new stadium and player related costs would allow Liverpool FC to provide its great fans with the success they deserve. Our strategy and unique ability to expand the fan base in Asia would also have been of benefit to all." However, the statement went on to say that "We regret that we will not have the opportunity to implement this strategy. We thank the many Liverpool fans who expressed support for our efforts and wish the club great success in the years to come."

Many of those fans have been unhappy with Gillett and Hicks for failing to build a promised new stadium and for saddling the club with so much debt.

Huang was profiled in an August 10 New York Times article.

In an August 9 news article at InvestmentAdvisor.com, we wrote about AIG being supplanted by Aon on the shirts of the Manchester United players this season.

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