Craig Whyte’s declaration he was the catalyst behind the Rangers sale to Charles Green shook Ibrox to its foundation and fired my memory into gear. However before dissecting my lonely grey cells let me jog your memory as there are a few twists and turns along the road to liquidation.
Rangers entered administration on 14 February 2012 and after various bidders dropped by the wayside American tycoon Bill Miller was declared ‘preferred bidder’ for the failed club on 3 May by Rangers administrators Duff & Phelps who were reportedly left ‘stunned’ just five days later when Miller walked away from Ibrox.
Commenting on the withdrawal at the time, administrator David Whitehouse said: ‘Given the fact that Mr Miller did not enter into an exclusivity agreement, we informed all other known potential bidders at the time the door was not closed.
‘As a consequence of Mr Miller’s bid being accepted, three other bidders have come forward to express their interest in buying the club and these offers are being evaluated with the utmost urgency’. I am unclear whether the Sevco offer is included in the trio but the Sevco bid was accepted by the administrator on 14 May.
When questioned about reports of previous links between himself and Craig Whyte, Mr Green dismissed them as ‘complete rubbish’ and stated he had Craig Whyte ‘for the very first time’ on 1 May 2012 in London.
The emergence of the Sevco bid so late in the day was questioned by the Blue Knights bidding consortium but Green claimed a Singaporean family interested in investing contacted him on February 15, the day after Rangers went into administration.
Green said he had kept his interest out of the public spotlight and performed due diligence, unlike Miller, before he assumed preferred bidder status. Prior to becoming involved in Rangers Mr Green was non-executive chairman of Bermuda registered Nova Resources which has a Singapore office and interests in Mongolian mining investments.
The ‘due diligence’ issue is important and Miller’s change of mind hinges on it. D&P stated in a creditors’ report: ‘9.4 A virtual data room has been created for those prospective purchasers who were able to demonstrate that they have funding to enable them to perform initial due diligence on the business and assets of the Club’.
Prior to gaining access to the virtual data room parties expressing a serious interest in acquiring the Rangers business and assets were provided with preliminary information after having signed a Non Disclosure Agreement.
As soon as Miller was declared ‘preferred bidder’ he began his due diligence but in a broadside at D&P stated: ‘Until then, information had been limited to what was made available in the internet data room and questions addressed to the administrators and their staff.
‘In addition, I had preliminary discussions with the Scottish footballing authorities and limited discussions with Ally McCoist. It became clear to me that preliminary information, discussions and analysis were, unfortunately, more optimistic than reality’.
The dissing by Charles Green of the timing of Bill Miller’s ‘due diligence’ is interesting because access to the virtual data room was restricted to prospective purchasers who could demonstrate that they had funding and this raises the issue of when exactly Mr Green was allowed access to the virtual data room and what due diligence he was able to carry out as he stated he wasn’t in a position to make a bid on 3 May but was able to do so the next day when Duff & Phelps noted his bid.
Like D&P and Mr Green I confess to surprise that MSM knew nothing about the arrival of the Yorkshireman on the scene without any leaks to the press as most of the other bids leaked info like a sieve.
But the fur really started flying late last month when Craig Whyte stated on BBC TV: ‘I was the one who found a buyer – it wasn’t Duff and Phelps. My colleagues in London – when no credible buyer was coming forward – went out and used our contacts in the city to find … to put a suitable deal together.”
Asked if he was the one who had brought Mr Green to the table, Whyte answered: “Absolutely. I introduced them to Duff and Phelps.”
As might be imagined there was a swift and strong response from Mr Green who stated: ”The facts are that direct contact was made by our consortium with Craig Whyte in the first instance as it appeared at that time that his shares would have to be secured in order for any purchase of the club to progress.
‘I was not present when contact was initially made but subsequently met Craig Whyte, who introduced me to the administrator’ adding that he had ‘no previous association with Craig Whyte’ and it was ‘misleading to suggest he ‘brought us in’.
He added: ‘I was brought to the transaction by Imran Ahmad following Duff and Phelps contacting Zeus Capital in February, due to their experience in the football sector.’
So back to my Eureka memory moment 🙂 For days that last paragraph has been bothering me and even when I first watched Mr Green state the words on STV I felt there was something I was missing or failing to understand.
But what? And then I suddenly remembered there had been another story about how Mr Green got involved with Rangers in February so I went and checked and the Singaporean family investors – who I had actually forgotten about – popped-up.
Insolvency News on 14 May 2012 reveals how Charles Green had been in regular communication with joint administrators Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, of Duff & Phelps, immediately after the administration began. (14 February 2012)
Mr Green is quoted as stating: ‘We started to put together who would invest, that was the first thing. I spoke to people in the Middle East who said they would definitely be interested.
‘We then knew we had the financial resource so I contacted the administrator around four or five weeks ago. I have met with someone from Duff & Phelps regularly and they couldn’t believe nothing had leaked to the press. We weren’t in a position to make a bid at the point that Bill Miller was named preferred bidder. We came in later’.
The timing is interesting in that Mr Green states he contacted the administrator in the middle of April when he knew the money was in place but, for some undisclosed reason, was still unable to make a bid on 3 May when Bill Miller was named ‘preferred bidder’.
But the Duff & Phelps Interim Report to Creditors dated 10 July 2012 states:
‘5.37 On 4 May 2012, a late entrant into the sale process, Sevco, provided an indicative offer setting out the terms on which it would acquire the Company.’ This bid was accepted on 12 May by the administrators although I can’t see any mention in their report of Mr Green’s approach in mid-April.
I don’t know whether when Mr Green and Mr Whyte met in London on May Day if that was the day when Mr Whyte introduced Mr Green to D&P administrator Paul Clark.
On 13 May Charles Green again met Craig Whyte and signed an exclusive deal to buy Whyte’s 85 per cent Rangers’ shareholding for £1, the price Whyte paid Sir David Murray. Green also gave him an extra £1 out of his own pocket in a London hotel room giving Whyte a 100% profit on the deal. Handy pocket – I wonder if the £1 coin was wrapped in a mouse’s handkerchief 🙂 There are at least another two occasions that the dynamic due met but I do not have the dates or the business dealt with.
It would appear from Mr Green’s public statements that he could not have met any of the two Rangers administrators prior to 1 May 2012 despite being closely involved with Duff & Phelps since 15 February 2012 and having contacted ‘the administrator’ in mid April.
I take this at face value but do admit to surprise that the administrators didn’t make it a priority to meet such a potential major player as Mr Green who had been on the scene since the day after Rangers went into administration and unlike everyone else had stayed the course and had regular meetings with ‘someone’ from D&P.
In view of the connection between Duff & Phelps’ partner David Grier and Craig Whyte and the secretly taped conversation which apparently revealed Mr Grier was keen for Mr Whyte to publicly endorse the Green bid for Rangers I have wondered whether Mr Grier was also Mr Green’s ‘someone’ at D&P. In so doing I make no suggestion of anything unprofessional or otherwise in anyone’s behaviour.
However, the tape-recorded conversation apparently places the meeting between Grier & Whyte between 4 May when the Sevco bid was made and 12 May when it was accepted as the taped conversation stresses the advantages for Craig Whyte endorsing the Green bid although personally I would place more hope in a lead lifebelt.
Worth noting that on 4 May 2012 Mr Green became sole director of SEVCO 5088 LIMITED with a DISAPPLICATION OF PRE-EMPTION RIGHTS noted on 14 June – the date the CVA Proposal was rejected by HMRC.
All in all I really have wondered whether there were two separate bids going on: 1) Involving Mr Green and his Singaporean family who may or may not be on the current Rangers shareholder list and 2) A later bid backed by Zeus Capital whose website in June 2012 stated:
Acquisition of Rangers FC
‘Zeus Capital, the Manchester and London based corporate advisory firm have worked in conjunction with Charles Green to complete the £5.5 million acquisition of the business and assets of Rangers Football Club’.
Looking at things from the outside the dual-bid solution would actually make sense of what appears to be some contradictory statements and it may well be that Green had problems raising the capital for the bid after having been alerted to the profit potential of buying Rangers.
It might even make sense of Craig Whyte claiming that he had found the buyer and put the various parties together. In my scenario CW sold the idea of a Zeus – Green package to Duff & Phelps. Hey ‘Doing Deals’ that’s what business is all about isn’t it? Or perhaps D&P came up with the idea but needed a third party to bring Zeus and Green together.
The possible flaw in my thinking is that Green has stated that Ahmad came to him in February asking him to be involved because Zeus was thinking of putting a deal together. Green said he refused the approach but Ahmad came back to him and they started working on putting a deal together. It may be Green refused Ahmad’s initial approach because he was already involved with an Indonesian family from 15 February the day after Rangers went into administration.
I also don’t know why Green then changed his mind and I am unclear as to whether Ahmad’s second approach (date unknown), which was accepted, was still under the Zeus umbrella or a freelance effort. However, Ahmad appears as Managing Director of Zeus Capital in April 2012 and subsequently became a Rangers director and currently is listed as holding £2.2 million in club shares.
Green says Ahmad introduced Craig Whyte to him and we also know that Green and Whyte met four times in London but we don’t know everything that was discussed or transacted although it is quite possible that Agent Whyte was in spy mode so we could yet be privy to the conversations.
We do know Mr Green confirmed meeting D&P administrator Paul Clark at a top London Chinese restaurant in May although I am unclear on the date. Green also states that his fellow Rangers director Ahmad had ‘loads of meetings’ with Craig Whyte but we don’t have dates or what was discussed at the meetings although again the possibility of tapes existing must occupy some minds.
It also begs the question – what were the meetings about as I find it hard to believe Ahmad spending all that time and effort at a critical time for the consortium just on buying Whyte’s shares which weren’t really regarded as critical by D&P as mechanisms existed if Whyte played the reluctant virgin to block any sale deal.
But, returning to my dual bid theme, perhaps the Ahmad activity reflected Zeus priorities rather than those of Charles Green and it might be fair to postulate that Zeus Capital might have a wider range of financial interests and alliances than Green.
Ahmad founded the London firm Allenby Capital Limited in 2009 which been listed as an adviser and broker in several announcements by Singapore-based Nova Resources Limited which Green chaired before resigning in January 2012.
In my musings I don’t suggest any wrong-doing on the part of Mr Green, or anyone else, because age and job-stress might affect memory especially as French retirement dreams fade and the ethereal strains of Zadok the Priest recede only to be replaced by a booming lambeg drum easily mistaken for the tolling of a bell.
Posted by Ecojon