Rangers reject takeover bid from Suns majority owner Sarver
The Rangers board has rejected Robert Sarver’s £18million ($27.47m) takeover bid after claiming it does not "adequately value a controlling interest in the Company".
It emerged on Sunday night that the owner of the NBA side Phoenix Suns wanted to buy a controlling stake in the crisis-hit Ibrox outfit.
But the recent purchases of significant shareholdings by Dave King and the Three Bears group – wealthy fans Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor – soon made any such move highly unlikely.
And now the club’s directors – who are still looking for emergency cash, despite announcing a £500,000 loan from football board chairman Sandy Easdale on Monday – have confirmed they have knocked back Sarver’s offer.
However, they have encouraged him to work with other supporters to help find a solution to Rangers’ financial problems,
In a 7am statement to the London Stock exchange, the board announced: "The proposal by Mr Sarver comprises a placing of 100 million shares at 18p ("Placing") which, if approved by shareholders at a general meeting, would be immediately followed by an unconditional offer at 18p pursuant to Rule 9 of the Code. The Placing would give Mr Sarver control of Rangers.
"While the Directors welcome Mr Sarver’s approach, they believe that, notwithstanding the current financial difficulties, the proposal does not adequately value a controlling interest in the Company and accordingly the resolution to approve the placing is unlikely to achieve the 75% majority required. The Directors do not intend to hold the General Meeting which would be necessary to implement the proposal.
"The Company is managing its cash resources carefully and will require further funding before the end of January. The Directors are in discussions with Rangers’ significant stakeholders with a view to arranging finance for the Club. This is likely to comprise loans in the short term and possibly equity in the medium term. The board has invited Mr Sarver to consider participating in a similar discussion alongside other supportive shareholders."
Sarver made his offer just after Christmas after being encouraged to take a look at the ailing Glasgow giants by former Ibrox defender David Robertson – now a successful youth football director in Phoenix, Arizona.
However, his chances of success were soon reduced as King and the Three Bears bought up almost 34 per cent of the club in two surprise transactions.
The board voted down its own resolution nine at last month’s AGM to allow shares to be handed to new investors without first being offered to existing shareholders. That meant Sarver’s bid would require the support of 75 per cent of the club’s stakeholders.
But while the club have rejected Sarver’s initial bid they will need someone to offer them help if they are to avoid a second administration event in three years.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley remains the key figure.
While his 8.92 per cent stake is not as sizeable as the likes of King’s, the £3million crisis loan he handed out late last year, combined with the retail deal he controls, puts him in a position of considerable strength.
He has already placed Derek Llambias – his former Newcastle manager director – on the board as chief executive and made another move on Monday as he handed the financial director’s job to associate Barry Leach.
That could yet put him in trouble with the Scottish Football Association – which has already charged him with breaching "duel ownership" rules and barred him from extending his shareholding to just under 30 per cent.
Sarver, though, insists he only ever had the best of intentions for the club.
In a separate Stock Exchange notice, the CEO of New York Stock Exchange-listed Western Alliance Bancorporation outlined his hopes for Rangers, saying: "My three sons all play soccer for Davie’s club.
"Initially, I’d had some of my advisors examining potential investments in teams in the English Premier League and in Spain, but Davie encouraged me to take a close look at Rangers.
"Like all Rangers fans, he’s really upset about how far the club has fallen in recent years and the more we spoke, the more interested I became.
"I’d be the first to admit that I’m not a lifelong Rangers supporter, but anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a genuine sports fanatic and owning two major basketball franchises for the past decade has been an enormous privilege.
"I’ve spent the vast majority of my career in public companies and I’m used to working in very highly regulated environments. I understand the crucial importance of business integrity and transparency.
"Rangers fans have every right to be wary about someone showing an interest in the club they love, especially given some of the events of recent years.
"First and foremost I believe what the club needs today is a very quick, major injection of capital to stabilise things and I can give the Rangers supporters a categorical assurance that I have the resources and ability to get this club back to its elite level.
"I’m looking forward to building a consensus amongst supporters and prominent Rangers-minded figures who have the long-term success of the club at heart.
"I’ve had detailed research carried out on Rangers and I’m convinced that we could take it back to the top of the Scottish game on a stable and sustainable basis."
Robertson added: "I’ve known Robert for several years. He has been very supportive of our local club and has a very good reputation in the US.
"When he said he was looking to invest in football in Europe, I told him right away that Rangers could really be doing with someone with his track record. I explained how far the club has fallen, but that there was huge potential to rebuild it.
"Even though I’m now based over here, I always watch really closely how things are going at Ibrox and it’s tragic to see how a club which was once a force in Europe has been brought so low.
"I can tell every Rangers fan in Scotland and abroad, if Robert Sarver is successful in becoming part of the club, he’ll not rest until they are back on top again."