Reliance denies Mukesh Ambani bidding for Liverpool

Both Mukesh Ambani and Subroto Roy are reportedly (separately) bidding for a 51% stake in Liverpool, one of the most successful clubs in the history of English football. 

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd and Subroto Roy, chairman of Sahara Group are reportedly bidding for a 51% stake in Liverpool—one of the most successful clubs in the history of English football, reports PTI.

Liverpool is presently owned by American duo George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who acquired the club in February 2007. However, reported disagreements between Gillett and Hicks, and the lack of fans' support, have led to rumours that that international buyers such as Dubai International Capital would bid for the club.

The Liverpool club emerged as a takeover target for Mr Ambani, the seventh-richest man in the world, as pressure mounted on Hicks and Gillett to cut a deal to sell the club, The Times reported on Tuesday.

When contacted in New Delhi, a Reliance spokesperson denied the reports. "We are not bidding for Liverpool," he said. There was no immediate word on the issue from the Sahara Group owned by Mr Roy.

Both Mr Ambani and Mr Roy have reportedly each tendered similar bids to pay off Liverpool's £237 million debt in return for a 51% stake in the club.

However, Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow denied any knowledge of bids by Mr Ambani and Mr Roy, but The Times reported that approaches began as early as November and that some preliminary talks had taken place.

Each deal requires that the present owners make a commitment to take no dividends or expenses out of the club for three years, to allow the entity to secure its financials.

The Americans were reportedly unpopular with the club's supporters and the hostility had increased as it had become clear that there was no money available to strengthen the team.

In April 2008, business magazine Forbes ranked Liverpool as the fourth-most valuable football team in the world, after Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal.

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    ASCI complaints have risen exponentially in the last month

    Complaints received by ASCI have increased sharply over the past month, with most of the complaints coming in from small towns

    There has been a sharp rise in the number of complaints against advertisements received by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) in the last month, according to the council’s secretary general, Alan Colaco. Most of the complaints are from small towns.

    “We used to get more than 15 to 20 phone calls in a month. Last month, we got more than 200 phone calls,” Mr Colaco said.

    ASCI is processing all complaints with nearly 50% of them being upheld, he added.

    According to Mr Colaco, the rise in complaints is due to ASCI’s ad awareness campaign which it started from December 2009. The entity had launched a nation-wide campaign to educate and encourage a majority of citizens to report any kind of dishonest or misleading advertisements from any advertiser across all categories. 

    “Earlier, we used to get a lot of complaints from metros. Now we are (also) getting complaints from small towns,” Mr Colaco said.

    The complaints over the advertisements are related to all media—45% from print, 40% from television and the balance 15% from other media.

    Mr Colaco refused to mention the companies figuring in these complaints. However, some of these companies are reportedly from ASCI’s consumer complaints council report published in 2008- 2009.

    Most of the complaints are related to firms from the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, which people believe are portraying indecent representation of women. The complaints are against misleading advertising and over various claims made by the FMCG sector.

    “We have also received more than 50 complaints against two (particular) ads which people have found indecent,” Mr Colaco said.

    In November 2009, ASCI had issued new guidelines for food & beverage (F&B) companies, asking them to provide proof for health foods and drinks that contain or claim to contain proteins, iron and calcium. These products have to be scientifically tested, and reports presented, before the same can be publicised, said ASCI.

    There is also a lack of clarity in relation to the ‘indecent representation’ of women. According to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, “’Indecent representation of women’ means the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman; her form or body or any part thereof in such way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to, or denigrating women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals”. This definition is leading to a wide range of interpretations.

    ASCI is a voluntary, self-regulatory council and a non-government body. According to ASCI’s protocol, advertisements must be fair, honest, indiscriminative and not indecent.

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