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Volume 10 No. 23


Isle of Man-based hedge fund Laxey Partners "has become the largest shareholder" in Scottish League 1 Rangers following a £1.4M ($2.2M) deal, with the fund signaling that it will vote in favor of the current board members at the annual general meeting, according to the SCOTSMAN. The group took its shareholding to 11.64% of the company, Rangers Int'l Football Club plc., "after buying more than 3.3 million shares." The purchase was made on Wednesday and Rangers "notified the London Stock Exchange of the change of shareholding on Thursday." Laxey Partners now has more than 7.5 million shares and also has a deal in place to buy more than 700,000 shares from former Rangers CEO Charles Green "when he is free to sell his pre-share issue holding" on Dec. 19 (SCOTSMAN, 11/21). The BBC's Alasdair Lamont wrote "the significance of the deal will be felt at next month's gathering, where a crucial vote is due." The current board "is looking to win a power struggle" with a group that includes former Rangers Dir Paul Murray and Scottish businessman Jim McColl. Both parties "are confident of emerging from the AGM with control following months of acrimonious disputes over the running of Rangers." No indication has been given as to who sold the shares on Wednesday, "although the only groups that held such an amount are the institutional investors Artemis and Hargreave Hale as well as Blue Pitch" (BBC, 11/21).

MORE TROUBLE? In Glasgow, Alan Marshall wrote Rangers could be set for another battle with the football authorities after it emerged that the Scottish Professional Football League board "is considering pursuing the Ibrox club" for £250,000 ($404,000). Lawyers for the SPFL -- which replaced the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League this year as the new league body -- "have examined recovering the money under an agreement that led to the transfer" of Rangers’ Scottish FA membership. That Five-Way Agreement "gave the authorities power to recover the oldco’s football debts from the new owners" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 11/21).

Italian bank UniCredit said on Thursday that "it would consider a sale of its indirect stake in Serie A football team AS Roma, though no decision had yet been taken," according to Za, Flak & Pi of REUTERS. A Chinese investor, possibly business mogul Wang Jianlin, "was set to buy into the holding company that controls AS Roma through a reserved capital increase that would dilute current shareholders, especially UniCredit." The bank said in a statement, "At present no decision on the stake has been taken. (UniCredit) confirms that the asset is not strategic and would be available to consider possible opportunities to extract value from it." UniCredit has about 30% of NEEP Roma Holding, "the football team's holding company." The rest "is in the hands of U.S. investors" (REUTERS, 11/21).

Spanish sport "is far from a 'Eureka!' moment," but has at least begun to "consider generating private revenue that would allow organizations to fill the enormous hole left by decreases in public subsidies in recent years," according to Amaya Iríbar of EL PAIS. One idea was presented at Tuesday's Spanish Superior Sports Council (CSD) meeting in front of "a number of presidents of both Olympic and non-Olympic federations." The proposal "involves, a platform that started out directed toward 3.5 million athletes and now dreams of attracting the 12 million people in Spain who play sports without licenses." The website is an "online discount store where customers can buy anything from a vacation to a belt, but it goes further: it aims to become a new source of revenue for Spain's sports federations." The company behind the project, hibooboo, "has reached an agreement with nine large businesses and Spain's 61 sports federations." The money "can arrive in multiple forms." For example, some sponsors will "donate a percentage of what they sell through the site, and advertising revenue is also expected through exclusive promotions and commercial exploitation." The CSD has not given the initiative money, but is "aware of the economic problems of many of the federations" (EL PAIS, 11/20). 

Spanish second division side Deportivo La Coruña will present to its shareholders at the club's annual assembly in December a current debt of €170M ($229M) and annual profit of €38,700 ($52,130) from the '12-13 season, according to the EFE. Deportivo "entered bankruptcy during the season and was relegated." Of the club's €170M debt, €159M ($214M) "corresponds to long-term credit." In '12, Deportivo presented to club members a debt of €98M, with €34M of that owed to Spanish tax authorities, and those numbers "shot up this  year." For the current season, Deportivo is managing a budget of €23M ($31M) in revenue and €18M ($24M) in expenses. These figures "will be submitted to club members for approval during Deportivo's AGM," which will take place Dec. 20-21 (EFE, 11/21).

La Liga side Rayo Vallecano on Thursday attended a hearing in Madrid and approved of an agreement that allowed the club to exit bankruptcy in "a favorable plan by creditors that was considered a 'round success' by the club," according to EL CONFIDENCIAL. The hearing "was held behind closed doors and approved an agreement and Rayo Vallecano's related exit from bankruptcy," which it entered in June '11. Rayo President Raúl Martín Presa said, "We are content. We have been working hard for two-and-a-half years. It was an agreement featuring better than 70% approval, so it is a broad, abnormal conclusion, and a success" (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 11/21).