Alex Salmond offers to help Hearts survive

Alex Salmond. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Alex Salmond. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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FIRST MINISTER Alex Salmond and finance secretary John Swinney have offered to help Hearts administrators BDO in their quest to bring the Edinburgh club out of administration. Lithuania’s ambassador to the UK, Asta Skaisgiryte-Liauskiene, has also agreed to lend her support to the cause.

Edinburgh club out of administration. Lithuania’s ambassador to the UK, Asta Skaisgiryte-Liauskiene, has also agreed to lend her support to the cause.

The Evening News has learned that BDO officials held talks with senior Holyrood figures in case political support is needed to keep Hearts alive. Salmond and Swinney indicated they are willing to intervene if necessary, whilst the Lithuanian ambassador said she was already aware of the issue and would also help.

BDO were appointed administrators at Tynecastle in June and are currently trying to broker a Creditors’ Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with creditors of the Lithuanian bank Ukio Bankas. Foundation of Hearts, the fans’ umbrella group, are waiting to take control if a CVA can be agreed. Ukio are owed £15million by Hearts and hold 29.9 per cent of shares in the club but are themselves in administration and controlled by the Lithuanian restructuring firm Valnetas UAB.

Extra help from politicians may be needed to secure a further 50 per cent of shares in Hearts, which are currently held by Ukio Bankas Investment Group (UBIG). UBIG are owed £10m and have been declared insolvent, with a court date for administrators to be appointed set for October 24. BDO are concerned that the UBIG administrators could make life difficult as they try to get hold of the 50 per cent shareholding, hence the discussions with Salmond and Swinney.

The First Minister is a well-known Hearts supporter and has told BDO he would be willing to intervene if the issue became political between the two respective countries. Discussions with Skaisgiryte-Liauskiene last week were similarly encouraging in terms of drumming up support for Hearts.

On the appointment of administrators for UBIG, Gintaris Adomonis, general director of Valnetas, said today: “The Court decided to re-open examination of the case, assigned three judges and set case hearing on October 24. Nothing can be done to speed up the procedure and we need to wait for the final decision. We expect that the administrator to UBIG shall be appointed on 24th of October.”

A court date for that purpose was postponed at the end of last month and BDO are concerned that the same thing could happen again next week.

BDO are working closely with Ukio Bankas administrators Valnetas in the hope that they will accept the proposed CVA. Foundation of Hearts have offered less than £3m to the club’s biggest creditor, whilst Valnetas have stated that £5m is their desired amount.

Valnetas have delayed making a decision thus far and BDO are now becoming concerned. Valnetas have indicated that they will give a response to whether they would be willing to accept the Foundation’s offer in principle within the next week, however they have missed such deadlines previously.

Valnetas have put a list of questions to BDO regarding their CVA proposal and BDO have responded with answers in the last few days. BDO are hopeful, but not certain, of receiving a response from Valnetas within the next seven days.