HEARTS are hoping to take a major step towards exiting administration next Friday when UBIG’s eagerly-awaited creditors meeting takes place.
The Tynecastle club need the creditors to agree to release the 50 per cent shareholding that is held by the collapsed Lithuanian investment company for a token fee of around £50,000. The transfer of the stake to new owner-in-waiting Ann Budge’s holding company (BIDCO) is regarded as one of the last significant hurdles to overcome in what has been a complex and protracted administration process. UBIG agreed to hand over the shareholding at the beginning of February but that decision has to be ratified by their creditors.
Millionaire businesswoman and Hearts season-ticket holder Budge is personally funding the £2.5 million for Ukio Bankas’ 29.9 per cent stake.
Former Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov’s fallen bank was due £15.5 million of the club’s total £28.5 million arrears and also held Tynecastle stadium as a security against its debt. UBIG, another of Romanov’s former companies, were owed £8.2 million. But even if Hearts’ administrators BDO get the result they are looking for next Friday, it could still be a matter of weeks before Budge is handed control at Tynecastle.
Behind the scenes, it is thought that mid-April is the earliest time that the new owner could take over. Budge is set to manage Hearts for a minimum of five years before handing over the majority shareholding to the Foundation of Hearts, who are backed by over 8,000 supporters making monthly direct debit contributions.