A DEAL to transfer Ukio Bankas Investment Group’s 50 per cent shareholding in Hearts to the Foundation of Hearts has been agreed, the Evening News can reveal.
The agreement needs to be ratified legally in Lithuania, but would see a token £50,000 payment for the shares made to UBIG’s administrators, allowing the Edinburgh club to exit administration with the Foundation as their new owners.
Hearts’ administrators BDO are proceeding with caution in the hope that the deal can go through despite UBIG’s assets being frozen. Foundation of Hearts already have a £2.5million Creditors’ Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in place to secure 29.9 per cent of the club’s shares from Ukio Bankas, who are also in administration. The CVA is conditional upon the fans’ umbrella group getting UBIG’s 50 per cent stake.
BDO have been in talks with UBIG’s administrators Bankroto Administrativo Paslaugos for some time trying to negotiate the handover of shares. This is the only remaining hurdle to Hearts exiting administration after the CVA was voted through last November.
There is now a verbal agreement between both parties for the transfer of shares at an agreed price. It has yet to be decided whether the £50,000 would come out of the £2.5m CVA fund – something Ukio Bankas administrators would need to agree to – or whether the Foundation would meet it as an additional payment.
As things currently stand, all of the CVA fund would go to Ukio Bankas, as they are Hearts’ only secured creditor and are owed £15m. UBIG, an an unsecured creditor, would get nothing from the CVA despite being owed around £9m.
BDO will continue to work on the deal and their hope is to have it finalised and signed as soon as possible, although they are relying on the legal process in Lithuania to move swiftly and in their favour. Hearts’ funding for the season is due to run out by the end of March and both BDO and the Foundation are keen for the club to be out of administration before then. Foundation of Hearts declined to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Football Association have confirmed that Ryan Stevenson will miss Hearts’ League Cup semi-final against Inverness next month. He was red carded for violent conduct at St Johnstone on Saturday, meaning an automatic two-match ban for his club’s next two matches. Those are Saturday’s league trip to Ross County and then the semi-final.