By Daniel Hunter
Duff and Phelps, joint administrators of Rangers Football Club, have granted Bill Miller preferred bidder status and hope the club will be in his hands by the end of the season.
The America-based businessman aims to form an "incubator" company that would see the assets of Rangers transferred to a new company.
"We would like to thank all parties for their efforts in seeking to submit bids which preserve the long history and success of the Club," Paul Clark, joint administrator, said.
"We are delighted to announce that today we have received an unconditional bid for the business and assets of Rangers Football Club plc from Mr Bill Miller which has been accepted and he is now the preferred bidder. Mr Miller now proposes to complete his transaction by the end of the season.
"After many weeks of negotiation and deliberation we believe that the structure of the bid from Mr Miller provides not only the most deliverable outcome but preserves the history of the Club. Rangers Football Club will continue as the football club it has been for 140 years.
"Furthermore, Mr Miller and his team have sought clarity in relation to potential footballing sanctions and the place of Rangers Football Club plc within the Scottish Premier League. Significant progress has been made and discussions will continue throughout the period which Mr Miller now enjoys as preferred bidder.
"Very importantly, the bid also avoids the need for liquidation. All too often the term liquidation has been bandied about during the process without a clear understanding of what it actually means.
"Liquidation means selling off the assets of a business individually to raise cash and therefore bringing about the closure or winding up of that business. This has never been on the table from any party in any form. There is no liquidation involved in this strategy and we cannot stress that strongly enough.
"As we stated at the outset, one of the prime objectives of the administration was to achieve a CVA which would deliver a return to creditors. Mr Miller's bid meets this criteria.
"In recent weeks there has been much debate about Rangers exiting from administration through a stand-alone CVA. However, the barriers to a proposed stand-alone CVA are now too high.
"These barriers include, in particular, the absence of any bidder proposing unconditionally sufficient funds to enable a stand-alone CVA to take place.
"Crucially a stand-alone CVA would take so long now to effect, the Club could not survive in administration.
As a consequence, no party has been able to submit an unconditional bid in a stand-alone CVA scenario.
"We confirm that discussions with the two final bidding parties for the Club included the possibility, as part of the proposals, the formation of a new company in addition to the preservation of the Rangers Football Club plc.
"Mr Miller's proposal involves the use of a specially created newco in addition to the retention of the Rangers Football Club plc. The business and assets he proposes to purchase will be sheltered in a newco and returned to the plc once the plc has been 'cleaned up'.
"He sees this route as a necessity rather than a choice and in our view this is an entirely workable strategy. Indeed to ensure the continuing operation of the Club beyond the end of May it is in our view a very compelling strategy.
"For the avoidance of any doubt as administrators we can only accept ultimately an unconditional bid - and Mr Miller's proposal is the only unconditional bid we have received.
"The bid submitted by Mr Miller is substantially greater than any other proposal and provides the best return to creditors, a fundamental part of our duties as administrators. Importantly, the structure provides a stable platform through which new investment can be deployed to ensure that the Club thrives again in the future.
"The bid from Mr Miller creates the most suitable framework to deal with the issue of the majority shareholding in Rangers Football Club plc.
"Mr Miller will be making his own statement in due course and we can confirm that it is envisaged that the sale of the Club will be completed by the end of the current season.
"We hope fans will now support and appreciate the commitment made by Mr Miller. His approach has been consistent throughout the process and on two occasions he has stepped back from the fray to enable other parties to submit an unconditional bid.
"Mr Miller's proposal can provide the opportunity for the Club to return to success on and off the field. We have no doubt that the fans will continue to provide the tremendous support to the club necessary to continue the Club's long history of success and tradition.
"Despite the competitive nature of the bidding scenario, we are hopeful that now a bidder has been chosen for the Club, all parties involved in the process will act in the best interests of the Club by lending their full support to the prospective new owner. We expect to enter into a binding agreement very soon."
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