ROBERT Sarver has left the door open for a potential future investment in Rangers despite being left with no option but to withdraw his revised £20 million takeover proposal for the financially stricken Ibrox club.
The Rangers board of directors, who remain in desperate need of outside funding to maintain the business as a going concern, yesterday turned down American banker Sarver’s second possible offer for control.
With his plan for a share placing unlikely to receive the required 75 per cent backing of existing shareholders, including former Rangers director Dave King and the ‘Three Bears’ consortium of Douglas Park, George Taylor and George Letham, the current board rejected Sarver for a second time.
Six days earlier they declined his initial £18 million possible offer. Rangers are now focused on negotiations with businessmen Park, Taylor and Letham over a possible £6.5 million investment in return for two seats on the board.
Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team and chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation in Arizona, expressed his disappointment at Rangers’ decision and accused the Ibrox board of failing to hold any “meaningful negotiations” with him.
The 53-year-old’s statement was generally of a conciliatory tone, however, as he invited Rangers to contact him in future if they decide they need his backing. Sarver has also retained the option, under Takeover Panel regulations, to take part in another possible offer for Rangers within the next six months.
“As a result of the Board’s continued failure to provide a counter offer or engage in any meaningful negotiations, I do not now intend to make an offer for Rangers,” said Sarver.
“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.”
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange on his behalf, the possibility of Sarver returning with another offer was confirmed.
“As a result of this announcement, Robert Sarver will, except with the consent of the Takeover Panel, be bound by the restrictions contained in Rule 2.8 of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Code”),” it read. “For the purposes of Rule 2.8, Robert Sarver reserves the right to announce an offer or possible offer for Rangers or participate in an offer or possible offer for Rangers and/or take any other action permitted pursuant to the Code within six months of the date of this announcement, in the circumstances described in note 2 to Rule 2.8 of the Code.”
Rangers had earlier announced their second rejection of Sarver’s mooted investment after reaching the predictable conclusion that 75 per cent
backing could not be achieved.
“The Board of Rangers has considered the revised possible offer from Robert Sarver (or a vehicle to be established and controlled by him) (“Mr Sarver”) which Mr Sarver announced on 8 January,” said the club’s
statement to the Stock Exchange.
“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) (“Placing”) 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.”
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, who has a stake of 8.92 per cent in Rangers, continues to call the shots in the battle for control through his associates Derek Llambias and Barry Leach who are chief executive and finance director respectively.
The Ashley camp’s alliance with Greenock businessman Sandy and James Easdale, who control around 27 per cent of voting rights at Rangers, is deeply unpopular with the club’s support who have been ramping up their own bid for increased influence with the ongoing purchase of shares through the Rangers First scheme. That initiative has been publicly backed by ‘Three Bears’ consortium member Taylor, the Hong Kong-based executive of financial services giant Morgan Stanley.
Ashley’s bid to raise his shareholding in the club to just under 30 per cent was rejected by the SFA. The Sports Direct tycoon and Rangers are both scheduled to face SFA Judicial Panel hearings on 27 January into alleged breaches of dual club ownership regulations.