Scottish tycoon Craig Whyte confirms Rangers interest
Rangers officials have confirmed that chairman Sir David Murray is in “early talks” with London-based investor Craig Whyte over a possible takeover of the club.
Following rumours that Murray was looking to sell his stake in the club, a consortium led by the Motherwell-born billionaire was believed to be the interested party.
Whyte, a life-long Rangers fan, has built a considerable fortune after floating his first company as a teenager and has several business interests in his portfolio.
Murray is set to recoup the £6m he paid for initial shares back in 1988, while the new owners would assume the club’s debt and provide funds to invest in the club.
An injection of cash would give manager Walter Smith a chance to hold on to several first team stars including goalkeeper Alan McGregor and midfielder Steven Naismith who have both been linked with moves to the Premier League.
Should the takeover be completed by the end of the year it would give Smith an estimated £5m budget to spend in January to boost the squad in his final year in charge with Whyte proposing £25m available over five years.
However, reports over the stage of the talks are conflicting with some outlets saying they are “advanced”, while the statement from Whyte and Rangers saying they are at an early stage.
Whyte’s solicitor issued a statement to the Stock Exchange confirming his interest.
It read: “Craig Whyte notes the articles in today’s press regarding discussions between him and Murray International Holdings Limited (MIH) with a view to him acquiring MIH’s majority shareholding in Rangers Football Club Plc (RFC).
“Mr Whyte confirms that he is considering making an offer for RFC and is in talks with MIH but that these are at an early stage and there can be no certainty that an offer will ultimately be made.
“Mr Whyte has not yet approached the board of RFC. A further statement will be made in due course.”
Andrew Ellis, property developer and former Northampton Town owner, who attempted to buy Rangers earlier in the year, is also believed to part of Whyte’s bid. Despite failing in his attempt Ellis has remained interested and will be a key player in the consortium.
It is understood that Whyte would hold 75 per cent of Murray’s 92 per cent stake, with Ellis holding the remaining quarter of shares.
Of the £33m takeover, £27.5m will go to clearing the club’s debt with Lloyds TSB and a further £5.5m will to go to shareholders, including Murray.