Dave King is a man of the most appalling selfishness. When George Letham tried to stop him from buying more than 10% of the club’s shares, to stop from triggering the Takeover Panel case which now threatens to engulf him and Sevco, he ignored it and bought 14% of them instead.
He has consistently made statements which force other directors to put their hands in their pockets. He lies with a brazenness that is astonishing, and then retreats across the water and leaves others to deal with it in the aftermath.
But if, as some are reporting today, he has decided that he will appeal the Court of Session verdict which affirms the Takeover Panel’s demand that he make an offer for all of the club’s shares he is even more selfish than we were aware.
King knows this is going to catch up to him.
Appeals don’t operate on the basis that a particular party does not like a verdict; they have to be fought on a point of law. But the decision in this case was not like other legal cases; Lord Bannatyne made it clear that the hearing he presided over was not an effort to re-litigate the Takeover Panel’s own inquiry into King. That inquiry has already been held. That decision has been made. That decision has been finalised. It is written in stone.
King is not appealing against the Takeover Panel decision; he cannot. He is ignoring it. The Takeover Panel was merely asking the Court of Session for an enforcement order. They were asking that the court issue King an instruction he could not so readily dismiss.
But the media, and King himself, appear to have taken their decision to go to court in the first place as proof that the Takeover Panel is powerless and it never was. Even if King’s appeal succeeds and the judge’s order is rescinded, the Takeover Panel’s own verdict will stand.
And their own consequences will follow as night follows day.
These include, but are not limited to, the now notorious “cold shouldering” of King and the companies with which he does business. As the company at the centre of all this is Sevco it is sheer fantasy to believe that they will not be impacted by this.
The media’s failure to understand this simple thing is astonishing even to seasoned watchers of the Scottish press, well aware of their ignorance on any number of subjects.
For openers, Robertson was talking the other day about it not changing the club’s plans for a share issue next year. He knows that is arrant nonsense but he also knows the media is not going to challenge him on it. But any share issue has to be approved by the City. A broker has to be found. A nominated advisor needs to be appointed. Finally, an exchange has to agree to relist the shares. It is a self-evident fact that the Takeover Panel’s decision compels King to make an offer for those shares and that whilst this ruling applies – and remember, it is a final judgement from the City of London’s own regulator – no exchange anywhere will agree to do so.
King is compelled to make an offer, and sooner or later he will get instructed to do so by a court from which there is no appeal. Because the “second house” – the Outer House – of the Court of Session made this judgement there is an avenue to appeal to the Inner House. Beyond that the only other appeal is to the Supreme Court … but crucially, the Inner House has the power to refuse him leave and to say their own instructions stand.
Regardless, whether a court tells him to do it or whether they uphold the appeal it makes no difference at all. King stands to win nothing. The club stands to gain nothing. He knows that whether he complies at this point or fights tooth and nail the end result has already been decided. The Takeover Panel have judged him and as long as he is at Ibrox they will not allow that club to re-float on the stock market without his being in compliance.
His decision to resist this judgement, when the only conceivable end is that the Takeover Panel will be left with no choice but to impose its own sanctions, including cold shouldering, is appalling in its protection of his interests alone. The Ibrox board must be astounded by this and by the negative effects it will have on every single person around the boardroom table.
He is dragging them all down with him, and the club too. He has lost this battle, but is determined to resist the consequences of that defeat as long as possible. If they continue to tolerate his presence on their board they are shackling themselves to him and to whatever penalties the final outcome brings. I cannot believe they are so foolish. I cannot understand why they do not cut him loose, for their own good and the good of the club they claim to love.