Foundation of Hearts chief cool on merger bid
The Hearts supporters organisation looking to buy the club from Vladimir Romanov has given a lukewarm response to a Scandinavian consortium said to want to join forces in a takeover bid.
Foundation of Hearts said it was continuing to focus on its own strategy despite the apparent new move from a group of six businessmen, who all studied in Edinburgh but are now based in Norway and Sweden.
The group is reported to be putting together an offer for Romanov’s majority shareholding.
But the Scandinavians are also said to want the Foundation of Hearts integrated into a new future structure of the debt-ridden club, with the fans controlling all footballing affairs and the foreign investors handling the limited company.
However, the Foundation – a group of Hearts fans with business expertise – has offered a tepid response.
Foundation chief Alex Mackie, who has been in touch with the group via e-mails, said: “We have not met the Scandinavians, they have contacted us looking for a meeting.
“We’ve not got a date for that meeting as it stands, but we are very much focused on looking at our own plans and strategy.”
The Foundation failed with an opening £450,000 offer for Hearts in November at a time when the club was on its knees after being hit by a HMRC winding-up order for that exact figure.
The bid was described as a “bad joke” by Romanov.
Since then, controversial former Livingston chairman Angelo Massone – fronting an Italian consortium – has also failed with a £4.5 million offer for a business whose last recorded debt was £24m.
Earlier this month, Mr Mackie said the Foundation would soon be ready to launch a second bid for the club, which is expected to top the Massone offer.
Mr Mackie said the Foundation had received “a limited amount of financial information” about the club and aimed to have its bid strategy well developed around the end of this month.
He said the bid would have at its heart “a fair and realistic valuation of the club”.
The Scandinavian consortium is said to have experience in banking, oil engineering, shipping and venture capitalism.
It is understood the group has not made contact with Hearts.
Former club chairman Lord Foulkes was sceptical about the likelihood of anything coming of the group’s interest.
“I don’t think Hearts should raise their hopes on the basis of this story,” he said.
Hearts declined to comment.
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