Glasgow & West Scotland

Whyte's offer for Rangers 'seemed viable'

Craig Whyte Image copyright PA
Image caption Craig Whyte denies the charges against him

Craig Whyte's offer to take over Rangers in 2011 seemed a viable proposition, according to the former finance director of the club.

Donald McIntyre told the High Court in Glasgow that Mr Whyte had said he would use his own money to fund the purchase.

Mr Whyte acquired a majority shareholding for £1, but the buyer was also required to pay £18m to Lloyds Bank - a Rangers creditor.

Mr Whyte is accused of a fraudulent acquisition of Rangers.

The 46-year-old faces two charges relating to the purchase - one of fraud and another under the Companies Act.

He has pleaded not guilty to both allegations.

Image copyright SNS (Scotland)
Image caption Donald McIntyre was the finance director at Rangers from 2006 to 2011

Mr McIntyre, who was the club's finance director at the time, said Rangers' net debt was £31m in 2009, and after the economics of the world changed it became clear that costs needed to be cut.

In late 2010, the court heard Mr Whyte's potential bid for Rangers became apparent.

The 58-year-old witness described how an independent committee was formed to consider Mr Whyte's offer to buy Rangers.

He said the purpose of the committee was to find out more about Mr Whyte, as Rangers wanted to ensure the "right individual" was in charge.

Mr McIntyre along with a number of board members - including chairman Alastair Johnston and chief executive Martin Bain - then met with Mr Whyte in March 2011.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked Mr McIntyre if the board were interested to know from Mr Whyte the "source" of any cash for any takeover.

Mr McIntyre: "I believe Mr Whyte said the funds were coming from himself."

'Secret deal'

The court later heard claims that Lloyds "threatened to withdraw" bank facilities if a deal with Mr Whyte was not "sanctioned".

Mr Whyte's defence QC, Donald Findlay, asked if the bank was "putting the squeeze on the company."

Mr McIntyre replied: "Correct."

It also emerged Rangers had struck a secret deal with the company Ticketus to bring in cash by selling off season tickets.

An allegation against Whyte is that he took out a £24m loan from Ticketus against three years of future season ticket sales in connection with his takeover.

Mr Findlay suggested the involvement with the firm while Mr McIntyre was at Rangers had been kept "hush hush".

But, he replied: "There was no need to disclose it."

Mr Whyte is accused of pretending to former Rangers owner Sir David Murray, and others, that funds were available to make all required payments to acquire a "controlling and majority stake" in the club.

'Small tax case'

The funds included clearing the £18m bank debt, £2.8m for the "small tax case" liability, a £1.7m health-and-safety liability and £5m for the playing squad.

The Crown alleges Mr Whyte had only £4m available from two sources at the time but took out the £24m loan from Ticketus "which was held subject to an agreement or agreements being entered into between the club and Ticketus after said acquisition".

The second charge under the Companies Act centres on the £18m payment between Mr Whyte's Wavetower company and Rangers to clear a bank debt.

The trial before eight men and seven women continues.

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