The new Rangers investors remain shrouded in mystery as the names released by Charles Green mean nothing to most people. However, investors have allegedly suffered death threats, had a website hacked and pulses soared when a one supposed investor was named on Interpol’s Most Wanted List.
However, Rangers fans can relax as SFA officials, sworn to secrecy and signing a confidentiality agreement, have been shown a list of shareholders. Before you ask, I don’t know whether their trouser legs were rolled-up and breasts bared and I don’t even know if it was a page out of the Karachi telephone directory. What we need to know is whether the list revealed the actual beneficial ownership of the shareholding rather than a trust or nominee name and the amount invested. I hope the SFA have been very careful about applying the ‘Fit and Proper Person’ tests.
On 15 June Rangers chief executive Charles Green revealed: ‘Our investors include Chris Morgan, a UK-based businessman representing family trusts; Glenmuir, the renowned Scottish clothing company; Ian Hart a Glasgow-based businessman; Alessandro Celano of Blue Pitch Holdings and Zeus Capital” and other names have since surfaced.
What is clear that only one investor can be identified as Scottish and that is Ian Hart who seems very confused as to whether he is a Blue Knight or Green Consorter – possibly Contortionist might be a better description of the Janus posture seemingly adopted by the Glasgow businessman.
BLUE PITCH HOLDINGS
Mr Green has revealed that Blue Pitch Holdings is the largest investor in his consortium with 23 per cent of the shares and is fronted by Swiss businessman Alessandro Celano. Blue Pitch Holdings is not registered as a UK company and internet searches have failed to find any trace.
A Mr Alessandro Celano is a director in 1508 London Ltd which is a very upmarket London design studio. Intriguingly, fellow director Fayeeza Naqvi is the wife of Pakistani born Arif Masood Naqvi – one of the 50-most influential people in the global private equity industry who holds Pakistan’s highest civilian honour.
Both he and his wife attended the London School of Economics and graduated in 1982 with Fayeeza joining a London-based global bank. She is renowned internationally as a collector and patron of Middle Eastern art and a tireless voluntary worker for underprivileged women and children in India and Asia.
Mr Naqvi is the founder and CEO of the Dubai-based investment bank Abraaj Capital – the leading private equity firm in the Middle East, Northern Africa and South Asia with US$ 1.5 billion of paid-up capital which since inception in 2002 has raised approximately US$ 7 billion with about US$ 3 billion distributed to investors.
A Linkedin profile lists an Alessandro Celano as head of the Family Office of Orchadia SA based in Geneva and that a Mr Arif Masood Naqvi is the sole director of Orchadia SA.
Repeated attempts to contact Mr Naqvi by emailing the Geneva-based lawyer representing Orchadia SA and Abraaj Capital in Dubai have gone unanswered. The emails attempted to clarify the possibility of a link between Mr Naqvi and Blue Pitch Holdings and sought clarification as to whether Mr Naqvi or any of his companies have invested in Rangers Football Club. After these attempts to establish the facts Mr Celano’s Linkedin profile was either removed or restricted.
Mr Green described Glenmuir as a ‘renowned’ Scottish company. Perhaps once upon a time they were – but no longer, having been bought out in 2002 by the English registered, Bolton-based Ruia Group whose directors include: Vimal Ruia and Amit Ruia apparently with family links to India as well as running a very successful textile group mainly based in England. Some staff still work for Glenmuir in Lanark where the company was founded in 1891 before running into financial problems which ultimately led to its sale to the Ruia Group.
At the recent RFFF meeting Mr Green was pressed on why some investors didn’t want their names known and the Rangers chief executive revealed Glenmuir had invested in excess of £1m and subsequently received hate mail and threats of business being withdrawn. Other people at the meeting have since stated on internet Rangers fan forums that ‘death threats’ were actually received by the company.
What of course proves that Glenmuir isn’t owned by Scots is that the company invested in one side of the Old Firm which any native knows is not a wise thing to do.
The Manchester-based Zeus Capital states on its website that: ‘Zeus Capital and its associates are also investors’ in the new Rangers although the amount invested isn’t revealed and no associates are identified. However the firm, which offers investment advice, now has its Managing Director Imran Ahmad sitting on the Rangers board with Brian Stockbridge, another Zeus director, serving as Rangers chief financial officer specifically tasked with raising capital.’
According to Rangers fan web forums the company’s website was hacked by Rangers supporters opposed to the Green Consortium. Interestingly the website as of Saturday was still stating that ‘The Rangers Football Club’ had applied: ‘To participate in the SPL’. Glad to see that two of Rangers’ new livewire directors are right up to speed 🙂
IAN HART – AN ENIGMA
Ian Hart, the Glasgow businessman, denied he was an investor in Rangers within hours of Green making the claim back in June and stated that he actually supported the Blue Knight consortium which subsequently failed in its Rangers buy-out bid.
But, at last week’s RFFF meeting, Green told the assembled Rangers fans that Hart did hold shares in the new company presumably purchased by money: ‘lying about in the youth development department’. Hart, who is said to be a large backer of Rangers youth development, explained that the money that was lying about was money that he had given to the club but which hadn’t been spent.
Hart’s seeming confusion as to which horse he is backing doesn’t bother me. But this ‘lying about’ money – was it in cash, in a bank account or what? And why wasn’t it secured by D&P for the benefit of creditors? What truly amazes me is that Whyte didn’t sniff it out – it must be the only thing he missed.
INTERPOL’S MOST WANTED
The Herald named one of Green’s consortium as Rafat Rizvi, a British citizen who ended up on Interpol’s wanted list after going on the run. Rizvi supposedly said he would invest £2 million in Ibrox after being accused of ‘stashing’ assets from an Indonesian bank, of which he was a major shareholder, two years ago.
Rizvi, 49, grew up and went to university in the UK, and potentially faces a death sentence in Indonesia. He remains on the run from an Interpol warrant and flits between his London Park Lane home and Singapore as neither the UK or Singapore has an extradition agreement with Indonesia. At the heart of the accusation is corruption allegations involving $1.4 billion of securities.
The newspaper also claimed that Mike McDonald, former Sheffield United chairman, invested £2 million in Rangers.
Green responded: “[Mike McDonald and Rafat Rizvi] are not investors in Rangers nor in any fund that has invested in the club” – although McDonald had previously publicly discussed a potential investment.
OTHER NAMES LINKED WITH IBROX INVESTMENT
Enquiries have failed to identify Chris Morgan or indeed any of the family trusts he represents which apparently have invested in Rangers and it is not known whether these investors are UK-based or not.
Also mentioned by Green or Malcolm Murray, the Rangers chairman, as investors are: Malaysian hotelier Jude Allan, apparently also known as Javed Abdullah; Middle Eastern lawyer Mazen Houssami; Elias Kaisar; and Jean Haddad. There are no contact details; amounts invested; or whether these people act for themselves or unidentified others. It is therefore a pointless exercise to attempt to unravel their identity and motives.
At the RFFF meeting, Green read out the list of existing Rangers shareholders, the bulk of these being in the form of ‘trust funds’. He said it was outwith the law and FSA rules for the individuals involved in these trusts to be made public. I disagree with Mr Green’s legal opinion just like I disagree with it over the operation of the Tupe Regulations. It is not illegal for people to publicise a trust that they belong to although many use the anonymity provided by operating through proxies for a variety of reasons and sometimes for tax avoidance.
RFFF members remained unhappy at the lack of transparency and the minute of the meeting notes: ‘The Board should consider methods to maximise transparency that would allow the fans to be re-assured that investments were real.’
Green told the RFFF meeting: ‘Additional investment has been promised and ‘placing letters’ received which guarantee a further tranche of capital, with ongoing discussions with a range of other potential investors.’
It remains to be seen whether investors will still be as keen to part with their cash if Rangers actually end up in SFL3 and I have the feeling that ‘placing letters’ could quickly end up providing a service for that place where the sun don’t shine.
It is worth observing: ‘An investment letter of intent is written by an investor who intends to put money into the business or idea of an entrepreneur. The vast majority of investment letters of intent are not legally binding’.
It would also be interesting to know whether the SFA have any idea about the variety and complexity of placing letters eg Big Boy letters, individual placement letters, placement letters relating to AIM investment or even – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placing_notes_in_the_Western_Wall
Indeed one of Mr Rizvi’s co-accused (See Interpol’s Most Wanted) has been jailed for five years on charges of not honouring a letter of agreement.
Posted by Ecojon