RANGERS have denied seeking emergency financial investment from Malaysian businessman Faizoull Bin Ahmad as they anxiously await tomorrow’s deadline for their open share offer.
Bin Ahmad, director general of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) in Malaysia, was in Scotland this week for meetings with Rangers director and major shareholder Sandy Easdale.
Also present at the meetings was Rafat Rizvi, a British citizen who is on Interpol’s wanted list at the request of Indonesia where he was convicted in absentia of stealing assets from one of the country’s leading banks following a government bail-out four years ago. He remains at liberty in the UK, which has no extradition treaty in place with Indonesia.
Rizvi’s name has previously appeared in connection with Rangers as a consequence of his business links with Imran Ahmad, the club’s former commercial director who is pursuing them for £500,000 in damages.
Rangers this week won leave to appeal a Court of Session judgement which froze £620,000 of their assets pending the outcome of Ahmad’s claim which is expected to be heard in November.
The beleaguered Ibrox board, who confirmed during the court proceedings they have just £1.2million in the bank, are looking to raise £3.97m through their open share offer in order to address significant on-going cash flow difficulties.
The deadline for the offer is 11am tomorrow. Rangers need a minimum of 15 million ordinary shares – worth £3m at the offer price of 20p per share – to be taken up by existing shareholders or the issue will not proceed. If it fails, the club have admitted they will immediately have to seek “emergency funding” and may not be able to meet their obligations to creditors.
The arrival on the scene this week of Bin Ahmad marked him out as potential investor in the club but Rangers have insisted the visit was purely in connection with proposed youth development links with the 54-year-old’s Malaysian Super League club Felda United.
“Rangers this week welcomed a delegation of Malaysian businessmen led by Datuk Faizoull Bin Ahmad, chairman of the Malaysian Super League football club Felda United,” said a club spokesperson.
“The visit was organised as part of on-going discussions between Rangers and Felda United with regard to a potential youth development partnership.
“It was at the request of Mr Bin Ahmad that the trip was kept confidential. While he was with us, Mr Bin Ahmad also looked at our community and social inclusion strategies.
“Mr Rafat Rizvi arrived with the Malaysian delegation without our prior knowledge. He is an advisor to Mr Bin Ahmad.
“Subsequent media reports suggesting Mr Bin Ahmad is in discussions with Rangers regarding anything other than youth development are untrue.”
The success of Rangers’ open share offer will depend on the willingness of the major city investors, who bought into the Initial Public Offering led by former chief executive Charles Green in December 2012, to buy the new shares.
But earlier attempts to persuade institutional investors to underwrite the equity issue were unsuccessful.
They include Laxey Partners, the Isle of Man-based hedge fund who own the single biggest individual stake of 12.6 per cent of the club, and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley who currently has a 4.56 per cent shareholding.
Ashley is understood to be enthusiastic about increased investment in Rangers, although SFA rules would limit his direct involvement so long as he remains owner of the English Premier League club.
His Sports Direct company last week took complete control of the club’s replica kit and merchandising operation with the transfer of all employees from Rangers Retail Ltd. The Ibrox board – chairman David Somers, Norman Crighton, James Easdale and Philip Nash – have all declared their intention to take up the open offer but their combined shareholding amounts to just 1 per cent of existing ordinary shares.