Henry Buys Soccer Team

Oct 18 2010 | 10:17am ET

Despite the last minute intervention of another hedge fund and the threat of a protracted court fight, hedge fund mogul John Henry completed his acquisition of British soccer team Liverpool Football Club.

The head of managed futures shop John W. Henry & Co. and the owner of baseball's Boston Red Sox take over from private equity legend Tom Hicks and co-owner George Gillett. The Hicks-Gillett ownership of Liverpool has been fractious almost from the start, and Hicks has been selling off his interests in sports teams since FINalternatives reported last year that Hicks' sports-team holding company had defaulted on more than $500 million in debt.

"We have a history of winning," Henry said of his New England Sports Ventures, "and today we want LFC supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great club."

NESV paid US$476 million for Liverpool, a team that was valued at US$822 by Forbes magazine earlier this year.

Henry's company first struck the deal for the team on Oct. 6. But Hicks and Gillett went to court twice to stop the deal. Their first intervention, in the British courts, ended in defeat last week. The second, on Hicks' home turf in Texas, where he and Gillett won a restraining order, was stymied when the British courts ordered it dropped.

Hicks and Gillett also sought to sink the NESV deal by selling their stakes to hedge fund Mill Financial. Mill owns Gillett's half of the club, but Hicks' bid to sell his half to the hedge fund was rejected by the Premier League.

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