There are plenty of theories doing the rounds on LFC forums about the Rhone Group’s bid for a 40% stake in the club. The majority view seems to be that it was a stalking horse, a transparent, hamfisted ruse by our owners to flush out potential investors. Others believe that it was a Machiavellian ploy by Tom Hicks to get some of his friends on board and assume total control of the club. Then there are those who took it at face value and felt any move that dilutes TH’s and GG’s stakes has to be a good thing.
But there’s one issue upon which all Liverpool fans can agree – Duncan Oldham of KopTalk had no prior knowledge of the bid, because he has no “insider” contacts within LFC.
The following post appeared on March 11th on RAOTL, better known as The Rattle, one of the many free Liverpool sites whose members have genuine contacts within the club:
Post subject: Refinancing – a nightmare scenario
Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:59 pm
Forum Ian Callaghan
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 4:43 pm
The other week a couple of us met a feller after the match to talk about getting a hand putting a supporters’ share proposal together, to get things back on track. This feller was a bit clued up, having worked in the City of London and Wall Street, he was also dead keen on supporter ownership, having been involved with AFC Bournemouth donkeys years ago. Anyway, he put the idea forward that should Purslow fail to find some gullible fool willing to pay down £100m of someone else’s debt just to be a junior partner in their still indebted enterprise, then the next stop would be other equity finance partners and the hedge funds.
A little dickie bird has mentioned that two such “equity partners” are now indeed in the frame along with a hedge fund. The equity partners are said to go by the names of Muse and Rhone. The name of Muse will be familiar to anyone who knows anything of Hicks’ past, especially his involvement with Corinthians through their earlier venture, Hicks Muse Tate & Furst. Rhone is a “private equity” LLC, specialising in leveraged buy outs, and a fellow donor of Hicks’ to the election campaigns of Rudolf Giuiliani.
What this means, I don’t really know yet. But, it looks to me as though Hicks is looking to bump Gillett by getting his mate from the good old days at Corinthians and his Republican cronies to stump up the £100m that will get RBS and Purslow off his back and give him control of the club.
Ah well, it can’t all be bad, can it?
Nothing about Rhone had appeared on KopTalk at this point. The following day, Duncan Oldham crapped out one of his long, rambling, embarrassing editorials. It ran to a grand total of 1534 words – but there wasn’t a single mention of Rhone, or Muse, or of any new bid for the club. It did, however, contain KopTalk classics such as this ludicrous fantasy:
12/03/10 12:06 PM EDITOR: Players have a duty to us and not just the manager
I have no relationship with Peter Crouch but I do have a foot in the Alonso camp and that lad would have stayed had Rafa not been so stubborn.
The only mention of investment was this embarrassing trip down memory lane:
I firmly believe that the club could have retained its ‘specialness’ had Moores worked with Steve Morgan, L4 and others. But that’s all history now, just like our success.
Dunk, a quick tip for you – if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about on the investment front, it’s probably best not to use Morgan and L4 as your examples. One simply didn’t have enough money to buy club, so he chose to undervalue it well below its market price, and the other was just a publicity stunt to promote a deeply shit film.
It would take another day for news of the Rhone bid to belatedly appear on KopTalk. As we’ll demonstrate in detail in a forthcoming article, there are three ways in which big stories break on KopTalk: from members who have read something on other Liverpool forums; from members who are using NewsNow’s LFC feed; and from members who are watching Sky Sport News. In this case it was the latter:
13/03/10 10:35 PM NOTW
Sunday back page – apparently US based investment vehicle currently undergoing DD for a 40% stake for £100M. Could explain current silence
The NotW article had appeared online by 11pm on the 13th. Duncan Oldham is so far out of the loop that he didn’t manage to get something out until late the following afternoon:
14/03/10 04:16 PM Rhone Group linked with £118.5m Liverpool FC investment
Tom Hicks & George GillettCredible reports today claim that New York based private equity firm ‘Rhone Group’ have begun due diligence with Liverpool Football Club ahead of a possible £118.5million investment.
The group is headed by billionaire financiers Robert Agostinelli and Steven Langman and they are said to be interested in a possible 40% purchase.
Such a deal would give them a controlling interest as that would leave Tom Hicks and George Gillett with 30% each.
A number of potential investors are interested but this latest shower actually appear very serious and KOPTALK sources are backing up today’s claims.
If a deal did go through, the money would pay off the £100million that the Royal Bank of Scotland are demanding by the summer.
Details of the offer were received by Liverpool officials yesterday and the matter has yet to be discussed by the board.
That was all he could come up with three days after the Rhone story had been broken by another Liverpool fan site – a forum that, unlike KopTalk, does have genuine “insider” contacts but doesn’t charge members any money for access.