Hicks And Gillett Out On A Lim

The legal battle over who has the right to sell Liverpool soccer club had a topsy-turvy day in London’s High Court Oct. 12, which ended when Justice Christopher Floyd said he would give his ruling the following morning.

Counsel for club chairman Martin Broughton was seeking a declaratory judgment that he had the right to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

But Paul Girolami, the barrister representing deposed Liverpool soccer club owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, said Broughton and two other directors hadn’t taken a close enough look at some of the other offers the club has received, including one from U.S. hedge fund Mill Financial.

Hours before the case opened, UK newspapers reported that Singapore billionaire Peter Lim has put in a £320 million offer, £20 million ($31.6 million) more than the NESV bid, and had also promised a further £40 million to strengthen the team.

Girolami also claimed Hicks and Gillett have an agreement with Royal Bank Of Scotland that runs to Nov. 1, and not the widely reported Oct. 15 deadline.

As he left court, Broughton declined to comment on whether Girolami’s new information regarding the date when RBS can step in is correct.

The bid from Lim, who is known as “the king of the stock market” and was 655th in the latest Forbes rich list, shouldn’t make any material difference to the case. It landed nearly a week after Broughton signed an agreement to sell the club to John W. Henry and the team behind the Red Sox.

More central to the matter is whether Hicks and Gillett breached a written agreement not to interfere with the composition of the board when they sacked managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre.

Justice Floyd had earlier heard RBS barrister Richard Snowden claim they had “behaved with breathtaking arrogance” and frustrated the sales process. Hicks and Gillett hoped to replace Purslow and Ayre with two new board members who’d vote against the club accepting the NESV offer.