Rangers chairman Dave King has predicted the pending court action against him by the Takeover Panel will have “zero impact” on plans to raise fresh funds for the Ibrox club through a rights issue.
Proceedings have been raised at the Court of Session against King after the Takeover Appeal Board ruled he had acted in concert with other shareholders to take control of Rangers in March 2015.
The South Africa-based businessman was ordered to offer 20 pence for every share not owned by himself or other members of the alleged concert party of investors comprising George Letham, Douglas Park and George Taylor.
King has refused to make the offer, insisting his part in the purchase of shares came through New Oasis Asset Limited, a family trust fund, which acquired a holding of almost 15 per cent in the build-up to his successful boardroom coup which overthrew the previous Mike Ashley-backed regime at Ibrox.
With Rangers having now settled their long-running dispute with Ashley’s Sports Direct firm over the club’s retail deal, King hopes to press ahead with plans for a share issue. Ashley, through his MASH company’s 8.92 per cent holding in Rangers, has previously helped block King’s efforts to secure the 75 per cent backing he needs from shareholders to launch the rights issue.
The Takeover Panel legal action is viewed by some as another stumbling block for King but he is totally dismissive of its potential impact.
“I am absolutely contesting that,” he said. “It is just plain wrong and it won’t survive. It will be zero impact on Rangers. It is a shareholder issue, I can’t make an offer for the shares. If they had said to my trust to make an offer, the trust could do it. They have the parties mixed up. It’s wrong and maybe they’ll fix it. But it doesn’t occupy my mind.
“It is still before the Court of Session and that won’t be heard for a number of months. The Takeover Panel is not even something I have thought about. For me, it is not an issue at this point in time.
“We are now in a position to proceed with a rights issue. We have always struggled to get that 75 per cent because of the opposition from MASH. It is fair to say that opposition will not be there going forward which means that either at the AGM coming up or before we will be able to get those resolutions through.”
King has also expressed his astonishment at the acquittal of Craig Whyte on charges of taking over Rangers by fraudulent means in May 2011. A jury found Whyte not guilty earlier this month after a seven-week trial.
Despite being prepared as a witness for the prosecution, King was ultimately not called upon to give testimony and he has now questioned the competence of the case made against Whyte which was successfully defended by former Rangers vice-chairman Donald Findlay QC.
“I was a bit astonished,” said King, who remained as a director of Rangers following Whyte’s purchase of the club from David Murray and until its financial collapse in 2012.
“When I came over here to give evidence I was told the strategy had changed and they were not going to call me, Alastair Johnston or Paul Murray – any of the former directors.
“I was surprised because I felt that having stayed on the board, the paper trail I had was quite important in terms of convicting him. I had to assume they knew what they were doing and they had a strategy.
“It’s very disappointing to see the manner in which it was prosecuted. Police Scotland put together a good case but the Crown failed to prosecute it as well as it had been prepared for them.”
King, meanwhile, believes the threat of legal action against Rangers from former manager Mark Warburton was ‘frivolous’ and will not happen. Warburton, his assistant David Weir and head of recruitment Frank McParland left Rangers in February.
The Ibrox club insist they had resigned amid interest from Nottingham Forest - who they all subsequently joined - but the trio claimed they were sacked and never offered to quit. A court case against Rangers through the League Managers’ Association was mooted but has yet to transpire.
“I haven’t heard from Mark Warburton and I regarded that threat of litigation as nothing more than frivolous,” said King.
“It has disappeared and it has gone. Litigation could have happened the other way, but Mark could never have sued the club. If Mark had continued with his action, we would have counter-sued but I think the fact that he has quite correctly let it die a natural death.”