By Souhail Karam
UPDATE 1: Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Bin Abdullah Al Saud preparing to pay $558m for 50% stake.
A Saudi prince is prepared to spend up to 350 million pounds ($558m) to buy a 50 percent stake in English football club Liverpool, Al-Riyadh newspaper quoted him as saying on Sunday.
"We are currently seeking to buy 50 percent of the shares in the club which is now suffering of debts worth 245 million pounds," Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah, who chairs private firm F6 and a Saudi-based holding firm called Fama Group, was quoted as saying.
"The transaction, upon which a decision is close to be reached, will be worth 200 (million) to 350 million pounds," he said, according to the newspaper.
A Fama spokesman declined to comment. "What I know is that the prince attended the Liverpool game against Hull and signed yesterday an agreement with Liverpool to build a sport academy in Saudi Arabia," the spokesman said.
No-one at Liverpool, which beat Hull 6-1 to move to third position in the English Premier League, could immediately be reached for comment.
Over the past few years, investors from Gulf Arab countries have shown growing interest in acquiring soccer clubs, mainly in the English Premier League, which culminated last year in the acquisition of Manchester City by Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment.
Liverpool has been at the centre of this interest after its American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett said in January they were in talks to sell the club for 500 million pounds, including debt, to a group of investors from the region.
Before that, UAE-based Dubai International Capital vied in 2007 for a stake in Liverpool.
Liverpool is England's most successful club with 18 English league titles and five European Cup triumphs.
Last year, Forbes Magazine estimated Liverpool to be worth $1 bn, excluding debt, placing it as the fourth-most valuable football team in the world after Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal. (Reuters)