Rangers chairman Dave King insists he has “no regrets” after the Takeover Panel’s decision to “cold-shoulder” him for four years and says the ruling will have no impact on the club or his position.
A Hearings Committee of the regulatory body that deals with takeovers sanctioned the South Africa-based businessman, who seized control of the club in 2015 when he teamed up with a group known as the ‘Three Bears’, after ruling that he had contravened four different rules of the city code on takeovers and mergers.
As a result of the ruling, King has now effectively been blackballed by the panel, preventing him from working with any business or professional regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for four years.
Both the committee and King say the punishment will apply to the Rangers chairman as an individual and not to the club.
Why has King been sanctioned?
King had previously been forced to fight off attempts by the Takeover Panel requiring him to make an offer to buy out the rest of the club’s shareholders.
In an 88-point ruling of over 9,000 words, the principal contravention alleged that “King acted in concert with others to acquire shares carrying more than 30 per cent of the voting rights of Rangers. In contravention of Rule 9.1 of the Code he then failed to make an offer to purchase the shares of Rangers not owned or controlled by himself or by those with whom he had acted in concert.”
The ruling continued: “From its earlier analysis in this ruling of the contraventions that it has found established, the Committee concludes that Mr King’s behaviour shows a clear propensity to disregard the Code and to comply with its Rules only when forced to do so by enforcement proceedings in the courts.
“We would also add that Mr King’s prolonged refusal to procure a Rule 9 offer, along with his conduct in dealing with the Executive during its initial investigation into a possible concert party, were offences of the utmost seriousness for which a statement of public censure would not be a sufficient sanction.”
What does it mean for Rangers?
The committee made it clear that the punishment will apply to King as an individual and not to Rangers. In a statement on the club’s official website, King said the Takeover Panel ruling will not affect his personal or business activities and outlined his reasons for opting not to launch an appeal.
“In terms of its practical impact, the ruling of the Hearings Committee does not impact upon my personal or business activities – including RIFC,” he said. “It applies solely to dealings in companies that are or are to be listed on the UK exchanges. For that reason alone I decided – even though I consider I have strong grounds for appeal – not to appeal this ruling.
“This now allows myself, RIFC and its shareholders to draw a line under this long and much protracted saga. RIFC and Rangers Football Club are not affected by the Hearings Committee’s ruling and the ruling does not impact upon my position as chairman and a director of RIFC.
“I have ensured that RIFC has complied with the requirements of the Code throughout the period of my chairmanship, notwithstanding that the company is no longer listed. RIFC will continue to comply with the Code. The Takeover Panel has raised no concerns about RIFC’s compliance with the Code in the more than four-and-a-half years since regime change.”
‘Solely for the love of the club’
In his statement, King also insisted that he did not regret the way in which regime change unfolded at Ibrox and said the initial complaint to the panel was raised by the club’s previous board.
“Rangers supporters already know that my problems with the Takeover Panel arose directly as a result of the steps I took to protect and safeguard Rangers Football Club from the forces that were bent on destroying it at that time,” he said.
“Indeed, the complaint against me was initiated by the RIFC Board at that time (chaired by David Somers) in an attempt to prevent my efforts – along with other notables – to bring about regime change.