DCSIMG

Rangers takeover: Brian Kennedy still a frontrunner to be new owner

Picture: Robert Perry

Picture: Robert Perry

  • by STEPHEN HALLIDAY
 

BRIAN Kennedy remains hopeful of becoming the new owner of Rangers, despite the fresh interest in the club revealed by administrators Duff & Phelps as they seek to name a new preferred bidder by the weekend.

• Two interested parties who have reached an agreement with Rangers owner Craig Whyte

• The Scotsman has learned that former SRU chief executive Gordon McKie has spent time in Glasgow this week assessing the state of the ailing Ibrox club’s finances on behalf of Sale Sharks owner Kennedy

• According to a statement by Duff and Phelps, Whyte has confirmed his willingness to transfer the shares and stated he will not stand in the way of Rangers being sold.

The Edinburgh-born millionaire is believed to be one of two interested parties who have reached an agreement with Rangers owner Craig Whyte to purchase his 85 per cent shareholding in the club.

A London-based consortium, one of two late entries to the bidding process this week following American trucking tycoon Bill Miller’s withdrawal as the preferred bidder, are also understood to have struck a deal with Whyte.

According to a brief statement by Duff & Phelps last night, Whyte has confirmed his willingness to transfer the shares and stated he will not stand in the way of Rangers being sold.

“We have continued discussions today with the parties remaining in the bidding process and good progress has been made,” said co-administrator Paul Clark.

“We can also confirm that Craig Whyte has confirmed that he will transfer his shareholding in Rangers Football Club to two of the parties and has indicated he would not be an impediment to a sale of the club.

“We will issue a further update for supporters tomorrow and can say that every effort is being made to conclude the sale of the club as quickly as possible.”

The Scotsman has learned that former SRU chief executive Gordon McKie has spent time in Glasgow this week assessing the state of the ailing Ibrox club’s finances on behalf of Sale Sharks owner Kennedy, who confirmed that his joint bid with the Blue Knights consortium, put together by former Rangers director Paul Murray, is still on the table.

McKie and Kennedy previously worked together at Murrayfield. Kennedy was a non-executive director of the SRU from 2005 to 2008. McKie, currently chief executive of the Hong Kong Football Association, is lined up for a similar position at Rangers if Kennedy takes control.

Asked about a potential deal with Whyte, Kennedy replied: “I won’t comment on Craig Whyte’s shares. I have a confidentiality agreement with Craig and I intend to respect that.”

The London-based consortium is believed to include former chairmen and chief executives of English Premier League and Championship clubs.

But former Chelsea and Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon last night denied he was one of those involved.

“People use my name a lot, but it is news to me,” said Kenyon. “But I’ve not had any discussions.”

Duff & Phelps are also considering two other bids, including a revised offer from Singapore businessman Bill Ng.

Former Rangers manager Graeme Souness, a close friend of Brian Kennedy, had been

linked to one of the new bids but refuted that suggestion yesterday. Kennedy continues to favour Rangers’ emerging from administration through a Company Voluntary Arrangement with creditors, a process which most financial analysts consider unlikely as the end of the season approaches.

Even with a majority shareholding, any new owner will have to secure Whyte’s ownership of Ibrox Stadium and the Murray Park training complex, as well as face the outcome of the tax tribunal over Rangers’ potential liabilities to HMRC.

But Kennedy believes a CVA still makes more sense than the liquidation of Rangers and formation of a newco club, the scenario regarded as inevitable by many observers.

“Financially, a newco doesn’t work unless you can write a cheque for £35 million to compensate for the absence of European football,” Kennedy told BBC Scotland. “We would only contemplate a CVA.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, has disputed suggestions by co-administrator David Whitehouse that Paul Murray had not been informed their offer met the requirements of the bidding process.

“To clarify, we were asked to get to a quantum, which we did,” added Kennedy. “And, having been told it was acceptable, we made a written offer. For David Whitehouse to say otherwise is a slur on the character of Paul Murray. Paul doesn’t tell lies.

“If someone else makes a bigger offer, that’s fine. But it’s about deliverability, not just quantum. The administrators chose the wrong horse when they went with Bill Miller. I wouldn’t like to see them make the same mistake again.”

 

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