RANGERS have insisted Friday’s general meeting of shareholders will go ahead, despite requisitioner Dave King revealing he was informed by the current board he has already secured a “landslide victory” in his bid to remove them.
King yesterday released a statement in which he accused the two remaining current directors, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach, of clinging on to their positions in an attempt to ensure they each receive sizeable pay-offs.
The South Africa-based businessman called on Llambias and Leach to follow James Easdale and David Somers by resigning from the board in order to avoid the cost of staging the scheduled general meeting at Ibrox.
But the embattled Rangers regime responded before close of business, issuing a stock exchange statement which claimed King is premature in claiming success and suggesting some shareholders may change their proxy votes by personal attendance at the meeting.
In a separate stock exchange statement, Rangers also revealed that the second £5 million tranche of Sports Direct’s £10m loan facility to the club is in the process of being drawn down to meeting urgent funding requirements at the club. But they also warn that Sports Direct could withhold the funds in the event of “material changes” at the club.
That appears to be a clear reference to the possibility of Llambias and Leach, both close associates of Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, being removed.
On yet another dramatic day in the Rangers saga, King fired the first salvo with his statement intended to put the heat firmly on Llambias and Leach. He also released an email he sent to both men detailing a phone conversation between them on Monday.
“All of the Rangers directors that are subject to my requisition have now accepted that my resolutions have been successful and there is now no need for the general meeting to proceed,” said King. “Mr Llambias put it best by advising me that I had achieved a “landslide” victory. I wish to thank all shareholders, and particularly the fans, for this resounding success. The future now looks more recognisable for all Rangers stakeholders.
“James Easdale and David Somers did the right thing by resigning, however the two appointees of Mr Ashley have stubbornly refused to resign and are using their current position (as remaining directors) to withhold implementation of the resolutions for personal gain.
“Now that the incoming board and I can focus on the future I will issue a further press statement outlining the immediate and intermediate steps that we have to take as we commence the road to re-establishing Rangers to the institution that its legacy demands.”
King’s email, sent to Llambias and Leach at their Rangers club email addresses, reads: “Gentlemen I refer to our joint telephone call yesterday and to prior indirect approaches on your joint behalf to secure exit compensation. For the record, I confirm that yesterday’s call was recorded in terms of WH Ireland’s routine policy.
“During yesterday’s call Mr Llambias advised me that the result of my requisitioning was a ‘landslide’ in my favour.
“This was already recognised by messrs. Easdale and Somers last week resulting in their resignations to avoid the wasted cost of holding a general meeting.
“As a courtesy Mr Somers advised me that he would assist in the handover and he agreed to remain a director until the 6th March thereby ensuring that the requisite appointments could be effected without the cost of a meeting.
“I was subsequently disappointed that Mr Somers resigned on Monday with immediate effect. When asked to explain this sudden change of mind he advised that this was done at your joint request. You have now engineered an outcome whereby I require your cooperation to implement the requisitioned changes without the need for wasted costs and are using this in an attempt to extract a profitable exit from the company.
“I made it clear yesterday that I am not amenable to that. I point out to you both that your fiduciary responsibilities as directors of the company can not be exercised to your personal advantage. I call on you to immediately implement the appointment of directors as discussed with [the club’s Nomad WH Ireland] followed immediately by your resignations.
“If you fail to do so, and costs are incurred on the now unnecessary general meeting, you will be jointly responsible in your personal capacity for such wasted costs. Your attempts to resign from your management functions can only be dealt with after the changes to the board have been made and there is authority on both sides to act on any decision reached.
“Given the urgency (caused by your failure to act as your co-directors did) I call on you to immediately, on receipt of this email, confirm that you will proceed as requested. This should have happened last week.”
But any prospect of the general meeting being cancelled was ruled out by Rangers’ formal response to the stock exchange a few hours later in which they also repeated their claim that the club’s shares could be suspended as a result of King’s eligibility to become a director in light of his £44 million settlement with South African Revenue Services in 2013 for 41 charges of contravening tax laws in his adopted homeland.
“The board of Rangers notes the press release from David King issued today,” it read. “Proxy voting closes tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 10am, and at the current time a significant number of shares have not yet voted; the outcome cannot therefore be determined with certainty. The position of the proxy voting will not be announced ahead of the meeting for regulatory reasons, and in any event shareholders have the right to revoke their proxy vote by attendance in person at the general meeting.
“The directors believe that they have at all times sought to act in the best interests of Rangers for the benefit of its shareholders as a whole and refute in the strongest possible terms any suggestion that this is not the case and in particular any suggestion that they have given their personal interests priority over those of the company.”
Meanwhile, the separate announcement regarding the Sports Direct loan made it clear King may immediately have to find the funds to meet Rangers’ short-term financial crisis, along with repaying the debt to Ashley whose initial £5 million tranche handed him security over Murray Park and other club property.
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