DAVID LOW has accused Hibernian chairman Rod Petrie of placing his own financial well-being before the good of the club after a £3.5m bid for the capital side was rejected.
The consortium led by financial advisor Low say they will not return to the table with an increased offer, insisting only a more realistic approach from the current owners can revive negotiations.
Low is fronting a group including United States-based businessman Ralph Lynch, son of former Celtic Nation owner Frank Lynch, and several other as yet unnamed figures at home and abroad.
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However, it was revealed yesterday that an initial offer for HFC Holdings Ltd, Hibs' parent company with a majority shareholding of 98%, was thrown out. Sir Tom Farmer owns 90% of the shares in HFC Holdings Ltd, while non-executive chairman Mr Petrie - a long-time associate of the former Kwik-Fit tycoon - holds the remaining 10%.
It was Petrie, though, who bore the brunt of a strongly worded statement from the Low camp, with an accusation that his desire to see a return for his investment was making a resolution unrealistic in the current marketplace.
Low wrote: "The principal reason given by Mr Petrie was that [the offer] involved no financial consideration in respect of their equity interest and shareholder loan in Hibernian FC. I acknowledge both gentlemen are entitled to reject any offer they do not consider to be in their best financial interests and I accept their decision.
"However, it is apparent that Mr Petrie's decision has more to do with personal wealth management than any legacy for Leith and, consequently, their estimation of the value of their investment bears no relation to the reality of the marketplace."
Hibs, however, strongly refuted that accusation in a club statement. While choosing not to reveal the details of the offer, a club spokesperson said: "Mr Low was given every courtesy to explain the benefits to the football club of his proposals to
an independent expert. Potential benefit to the club was put ahead of any personal consideration.
"The advice given to the club was that the proposals set out
in heads of terms dated 10 July received from Mr Low's lawyers, and again set out at a subsequent meeting held between Mr Low and the independent adviser, were not in the best interests of the club." When contacted, a source close to the consortium made it clear
that they would not be submitting any increased offer for the club. The £3.5m offer, however, will remain on the table.
Accusing Sir Tom Farmer and Rod Petrie of 'clinging to the old ways', they are adamant their bid for the club represents a fair price.
"The demise of Rangers and Hearts has decimated the value
of football clubs," they explained. "Clubs now have to live within their means in a debt free environment. This means there is little money to be made or lost. Sir Tom Farmer and Rod Petrie haven't worked this out or don't want to accept it. They're still clinging to the old values and the old ways. The debt in Hibernian is in excess of £8m which is in excess of the value of the club or business.
"The shares in the club are worthless. The current owners
think their shares and debt
have full value. We do not and there will be no increased offer.
If they changed their position
we would return."
Low's consortium are not
the only party interested in a takeover bid, with Hibernian Forever, a fans' group led by
former player Paul Kane, also seeking to secure at least
a 51% stake in the club.