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Further twist in Ibrox board battle

King buys stake in Rangers power struggle

Dave KingSouth Africa based businessman Dave King has become the biggest single shareholder in Rangers after buying a 14.57% stake in the club.

His New Oasis Investments vehicle, which is wholly-owned by his family trust, bought 11,869,505 shares today from Artemis, Miton and River and Mercantile. At today’s price, the transaction will have cost about £2.4 million.

The deal propels Mr King into pole position at Ibrox and deal a blow to those who have lobbied for Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley to take control. Ashley’s attempts to raise his stake from 8.92% to 29.9% were blocked before Christmas by the Scottish Football Association.

Mr Ashley’s loans were preferred to an offer from Mr King and an attempt to buy shares in a new offer, but the latter has now snapped up a significant holding in the club.

He said: “I would like to specifically record my disappointment that, if I hadn’t been blocked by the present board in favour of a lesser and commercially disadvantageous offer by Mr Ashley, the money could have gone into the club and not into the pockets of exiting shareholders.”

The deal follows a frantic round of share buying in the Ibrox club. Earlier this week a group of investors dubbed “The Three Bears” bought the 16.32% owned by Isle of Man hedge fund Laxey Partners, taking their total holding to 19.48%.

The consortium comprises George Letham, who owns 4.05%, George Taylor, whose shareholding has risen to 9.3%, and Douglas Park whose holding is assumed to be below the 3% disclosure threshold.

They recently offered a £6.5m cash bail-out in return for shares and board representation, based on a proposed issue of 40,739,000 new shares which was due to take place this month. It was not clear if this will not proceed.

It has now emerged that one undisclosed shareholder believes the Three Bears consortium and Mr King are acting together and that by owner more than 29.9% of the club they are obliged to make a bid for all the other shares. But this has been denied by all parties.

 

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