Rangers administrator locked in battle to appoint oldco liquidator

The administrator of Rangers oldco is locked in a legal battle to appoint a liquidator.

Duff and Phelps lodged two petitions at the Court of Session to end the firm's time as administrator and to appoint neutral practitioners BDO as liquidator.

The insolvency firm was called in to take over the running of Rangers on February 14, after they had run up debts of up to £134m.

During the hearing in front of Lord Hodge on Wednesday, Duff and Phelps' lawyer revealed that the oldco it is seeking to hand over to a liquidator contains £1.7m in the bank and "other assets".

The former lawyers of previous Rangers owner Craig Whyte, Collyer Bristow, is opposing the petitions. The grounds for the legal firm's move are not known yet, although it is embroiled in a £25m dispute with Duff and Phelps and Mr Whyte in English courts over the Ticketus deal used to fund his takeover.

Among the hundreds owed money by oldco Rangers was HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which was owed an estimated £94.4m in total, including £18m of unpaid PAYE and National Insurance dating from Craig Whyte’s takeover in May 2011.

Duff and Phelps, formerly MCR, had been advisers to Mr Whyte during his takeover of the oldco, which he bought an 85% stake in from Sir David Murray for £1.

Mr Whyte used a £26m Ibrox season ticket deal with London firm Ticketus to effectively fund his takeover and clear the oldco’s £18m Lloyds Banking Group debt.

The administrators faced allegations of a conflict of interest over their role in originally dealing with Ticketus, before winning court approval to tear it up when called in to oversee the insolvent company. Duff and Phelps partner David Grier claimed that his firm were aware that Ticketus may have been involved in short term working capital funding plans, but did not know it would be used as the primary source of takeover funding.

Previously, Lord Hodge ordered for Duff and Phelps to submit a report on the conflict of interest concerns to the Court of Session, which the firm did, although it has never been made public.

Neutral insolvency firm BDO, led by practitioners Malcolm Cohen and James Stephen, are expected to be appointed liquidators of RFC 2012 plc, formerly The Rangers Football Club plc, during the hearing, after HMRC insisted on ensuring Duff and Phelps did not get the winding up role, which it had originally planned.

Among the aspects of BDO's work as liquidators of RFC 2012 plc, will be to investigate those responsible for the financial meltdown of the club in recent years on behalf of the largest creditor, HMRC.

In August, the oldco administrators were paid around £2.4m for their work at Rangers, which included putting forward a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which failed, resulting in the club’s assets being sold off to a new company, Sevco Scotland Ltd, set up by the consortium led by Charles Green in a £5.5m deal in June.

Consequently, the newco failed to have the club's Scottish Premier League share transferred to it and was forced to begin life in the Third Division. The Sevco consortium has announced plans to raised £20m through a share issue, which Mr Green previously stated would be how the group would "make money" from the crisis at the Ibrox club.

Last month Duff and Phelps was looking for further payment to be approved by creditors, although it is unclear if that has been given the go-ahead.

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