The Takeover Panel has taken legal action in a bid to force Rangers chairman Dave King to make an £11 million bid for the bulk of the club’s shares, according to reports.
King has already been informed that he is breaching takeover rules by failing to submit the offer, but Rangers International Football Club plc said it believed the funds were in place, and one of King’s companies was seeking government approval to move the funds from South Africa to the UK.
Last week, it emerged that King was in breach of takeover rules, with his offer described as defective after he failed to provide “code-compliant” third-party proof that he had the money to pay for the shares.
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According to The Herald, the Takeover Panel has secured a court order that forbids Laird Investments (Proprietary) Ltd. from making the offer to shareholders without third party confirmation that the funds are available.
At the Court of Session in March, Lord Carloway rejected an appeal forcing a bid for 70 per cent of the shares to be made, after agreeing that King and three others had acted “in concert” to secure more than 30 per cent of the voting rights in Rangers and effectively oust the then board of directors, claimed to be allied to Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley.
The Takeover Panel, which initially decided that the Three Bears’ activities constituted a formal takeover bid, has now been handed “certain orders”, believed to ensure that a bid with actual funding is made by King, and that no offer is submitted to shareholders without the funds.
Laird Investments said in the announcement, made in late March, that the bid would be backed up by funds totalling just over £13 million which would be declared in early April.
King had long fought attempts to compel him to make an offer for the shares amid claims he was “penniless”. His advocate told a hearing in October last year: “Any order wouldn’t secure compliance. It is pointless.”
Under the rules of the Takeover Code, a written offer to shareholders should have been made within 28 days of Laird’s initial announcement on March 29 - but more than 28 days later, there has been no offer.
The chair of an “independent directors” group of RIFC plc wrote to shareholders agreeing that the initial bid had not been “cash-confirmed” by a third party as outlined in the Code’s guidelines.
RIFC plc noted last week that the 28 days had expired without a code-compliant offer being made.
The takeover group fronted by King, which included Park’s Motor Group supremo Douglas Park, Rangers Supporters Trust and Rangers First member George Taylor along with Ibrox fan George Letham, has always refuted claims that they acted “in concert” to buy shares in Rangers in late December 2014 and early January 2015. The Takeover Appeal Board concluded last year that “Mr Letham and Mr King, at least, were acting in concert”.
Lord Bannatyne ruled in favour of the Takeover Panel in December last year, and had said in a previous hearing that King’s argument that he didn’t have sufficient funds to make a mandatory offer at 20p per share, was “irrelevant”.