Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A few words about Peter Lim

It's 11:07 a.m. as I start typing this post, and I've been awake for seven hours, give or take a few minutes. I've been following the Liverpool court decision that has seen – at last – the end of Tom Hicks and his piddling partner in desperation George Gillett, but it has turned up one last sniveling little opportunist. Noted Lamborghini collector Peter Lim, the son of a fishmonger and the heretofore unnamed "Asian bidder" for the club, wants to worm his way into the control room by offering £320 million. It's a last-ditch attempt to sneak past New England Sports Ventures, whose £300 million offer was accepted last week. You might remember that incident, though it did happen before back-to-back, all-day Guardian live blogs of Liverpool's court case, so failure to recall all the details is understood.

Let's look at Mr. Lim's offer for a minute – and consider why every Liverpool supporter should be on his hands and knees praying to whatever god, statue, otherworldly idea or bottle of booze they prefer that Singapore's eighth-richest man doesn't finagle his way into ownership of the club. Lim is said to be worth $1.6 billion (US), and his offer of £320 million, plus £40 million to invest in new players, is equivalent to $570 million (US). Lim would like us to believe he will invest one-third of his wealth in the club without taking on any debt to complete the transaction. Without even mentioning stadium plans, he's willing to expose one-third of his fortune to just getting a hold of things at Anfield and donating a little seed money to buy, what, two or three building block players.

Those are just the startup costs, mind you. A 57-year-old billionaire sinking one-third of his life's work into merely beginning a new endeavor. Of course, building the needed new stadium would require him to invest at least two-thirds of his life's fortune, likely more, but, sure, Peter Lim only has Liverpool's best interests at heart.

And how is that $1.6 billion fortune broken down? Well, $1.4 billion comes from his 5 percent stake in Wilmar International. (Here's a bunch of business world gobbledygook about how their business works.) Lim bought that stake for $10 million in 1991 when Wilmar was a startup palm oil company. He's been diversifying into the health sector recently, so, you know, it's not like he's completely reliant upon Wilmar. He has spread $200 million around into other areas.

Like Lamborghinis, Porsches and Ferraris, as the first link in this post shows. Also, he "owns an entire 11-story block of a prestigious condominium in Singapore’s tony Orchard Road shopping district." Here's a shot from Street View of part of the Orchard Road shopping district:

A Borders! You are not a high-falutin' billionaire prepared to own the most successful club in the history of the English game and return it to past glories – while also building a modern, money-spinning stadium – if you count among your prized assets condos in a "prestigious" shopping district that includes a chain store where I've actually purchased something. At a Borders in downtown Chicago several years ago, I bought Charles Earland's "Black Talk!" album while waiting for a buddy to finish a law school class one day. Not only have I already shopped in your supposedly luxurious environs, Mr. Lim, I was doing it while a broke college kid. You, sir, are in no position to fund the purchase of the next Dani Alves.

Now, sure, if you click around through that Street View you'll find a Hermes store, an Armani, a Louis Vuitton. But look back at that Borders evidence and what else is there? A Marks & Spencer! Are you shitting me, Mr. Lim? I could stroll into Marks & Spencer tomorrow – or as soon as I could book a flight and figure out the International Date Line – and throw down cash(!) for the Autograph Leather Diamond-Punch Loafers by Jeffery-West. $103 for shoes?! You associate with this kind of commerce and think you're suited to oversee the design, engineering and construction of a 60,000-plus seat stadium with all the corporate amenities that ensure constant delivery by the truckload of giant canvas sacks with dollar signs on them?

And, of course, there's the one, widely reported fact about Peter Lim that serves as a ready joke should he continue to have anything to do with Liverpool beyond October 2010 – he owns a string of Manchester United-themed bars throughout Asia.

Give us a break, Mr. Lim. It's been an arduous campaign to oust Tom Hicks and George Gillett and their greasy, poorly financed fingers from the controls of Liverpool Football Club. Don't make us have to start all over again so soon.

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