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Ibrox ownership struggle goes on

Sarver withdraws interest in Rangers leaving club in turmoil

IbroxUS tycoon Robert Sarver has withdrawn his immediate interest in Rangers following the board’s decision not to back his improved £20 million takeover offer.

He said it follows “the board’s failure to provide a counter proposal or to engage in any meaningful negotiations with him.

He does not now intend to make an offer for Rangers.

Under stock exchange rules he will not be able to make a further offer for six months.

 The announcement just after noon today once again throws ownership of Rangers into turmoil with the various shareholding factions left to fight over control.

Mr Sarver, with a personal fortune of $400m and owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team in Arizona, said in a statement to the Stock Exchange: “I’m disappointed the Rangers board has rejected my revised offer, which addressed the club’s immediate and long-term needs.

“Clearly the current directors have a different path they want to go down. I hope for the sake of the club and the fans, who’ve been very warm and supportive towards me, that it works out.  I wish the club and fans the best of luck. If they want my support in the future, then they only have to ask.”

Mr Sarver increased his potential offer from £18m to £20m last week and said he would use £6.5m from the proceeds of a new share placing to pay off loans from existing shareholders, including Mike Ashley.

But the board said this morning that after consulting other investors the 20p per share offer through the issue of 100m shares would be unlikely to secure their support.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, the club said:

“The revised proposal by Mr Sarver was similar to his first proposal in the respect that it sought a placing of 100 million shares (to be priced at 20p in this proposal)  which, would require the approval of shareholders (at least a 75% majority) at a general meeting.

“The board of Rangers rejected the first proposal from Mr Sarver on 6 January on the basis that the board felt it unlikely that the approval of shareholders holding sufficient shares would be forthcoming. Following receipt of the revised proposal from Mr Sarver, the board has sought the views of a number of major shareholders on this revised proposal and has reached the same conclusion, namely that the resolution to approve the placing is unlikely to achieve the 75% majority required.

“Accordingly, once again, the directors do not intend to hold the General Meeting which would be necessary to implement the revised proposal.”

Shares in the club have been trading at around 26p, but the various factions now appear to be in deadlock with each owning large stakes but playing hardball over any attempts to persuade them to sell.

The Three Bears consortium of Douglas Park, George Taylor and George Letham holds just under 20%, while South Africa based businessman Dave King holds nearly 15%. Their 35% joint stake (they insist they are not acting in concert, which would prompt a mandatory bid)  is matched by Ashley, owner of Newcastle United, who owns just under 9% and existing director Sandy Easdale who holds 5% and controls a further 21% through proxies.

The fans group Rangers First snapped up 60,000 shares last week to take its holding to 0.8%, giving supporters some 10% of the Ibrox club and a significant influence over what happens next.

The immediate issue is raising at least £6.5m to meet short-term liabilities. Sarver’s next move is unclear but he has no direct connections with the club, nor Scotland. His involvement was inspired only through a friendship with former Rangers player Davie Robertson who persuaded him to make an approach to the Ibrox board.


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