FOUNDATION of Hearts have confirmed they are now ready to take control at Tynecastle at a moment’s notice, with the transfer of shares from Ukio Bankas Investment Group the only remaining obstacle to their £2.5 million takeover.
The Evening News has learned that Hearts are due to run out of cash by the end of March, however the Foundation have funding in place to run the Edinburgh club by themselves from now until the end of the season. Thereafter, they would be able to start afresh for the 2014/15 campaign using season ticket money, TV income, sponsorship and pledges from more than 7600 fans.
The fans’ umbrella group have appointed their own lawyers and accountants and now only require the transfer of shares from Lithuania to complete their buyout. Dundas & Wilson are their legal advisors, with Scott-Moncrieff the nominated corporate financial advisors and accountants.
A meeting of UBIG’s creditors is needed to ratify the transfer of their 50 per cent shareholding in Hearts. The Foundation are keen for the club’s administrators, BDO, to push for that process to be completed as soon as possible. This would then allow them to complete their purchase agreement instantly, taking Hearts out of administration with the fans’ group as their new owners.
The Foundation’s £2.5m Creditors’ Voluntary Arrangement was approved by Hearts’ biggest creditor, Ukio Bankas, in November. By voting for the CVA, Ukio agreed to hand their 29.9 per cent shareholding in Hearts to the fans’ group. The entire deal, however, is conditional upon the UBIG stake being handed over.
The £2.5million would be paid in a lump sum of £2million followed by ten instalments of £50,000. All of the money goes to Ukio, for they are the only secured creditor and are owed £15.5m. UBIG stand to gain nothing from the CVA, and their shares in Hearts are worthless following the club’s financial collapse.
The Foundation is funded by a group of unnamed investors who have been given the moniker BIDCO. They believe the transfer of UBIG’s shares can be ratified in court in Lithuania before creditors vote to seal the deal.
UBIG are now run by administrators UAB Bankroto Administrativo Paslaugos after suffering their own financial collapse last year. Although their assets have been frozen, a deal to transfer the Hearts shares is possible provided all parties are in agreement.
Foundation chairman Ian Murray MP spoke out to remind everyone of the club’s main priority at the end of a week when Hearts’ registration embargo, assistant manager Billy Brown’s exit and cost-cutting have stolen headlines. “It is critically important that all eyes remain on the prize, securing Hearts’ survival, and so I strongly encourage everyone involved in this process to remain highly focused. To that end, the Foundation is pleased to have appointed Dundas & Wilson as its legal advisors, in order to finalise its agreement with BIDCO. We are also delighted that Scott-Moncrieff will be the Foundation’s nominated corporate financial advisors and accountants. We always intended to finalise these agreements after the CVA and following a competitive tender process we are pleased to be in a position to move forward.
“I am also extremely heartened to report that January contributions via direct debit have held up as strongly as every month before. We continue to see over 7,600 contributors and a 99 per cent collection success rate. We are all acutely aware of the need to see Hearts exit administration, and plan for the future. We know there is frustration from supporters, but I can assure them we are working every hour to expedite the process. We are ready to move extremely quickly, once matters in Lithuania can be resolved. Hopefully that moment will be soon. Total focus can take us to where we need to be. We will continue to keep supporters fully informed.”