Hemmings makes bid to save Preston North End

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Hemmings makes bid to save Preston North End

Fri, 04 June 2010
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Hemmings makes bid to save Preston North End

Property tycoon and Blackpool Tower owner Trevor Hemmings has offered 5p a share for Preston North End (PNE) football club, valuing the team at less than £165,000.

Deepdale PNE Holdings launched the bid after buying more than half the company, or 1.69m shares, many from club chairman Derek Shaw. That takes it past the 29.9% level above which a shareholder is obliged to make a mandatory unconditional offer.

The Championship club, managed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s son Darren, was suspended from trading on AIM last month at 95p after it received a winding up petition from HM Revenue and Customs.

Last night, Preston had total debts of nearly £30m, including a bank overdraft of £5.2m, a £1m bank loan, an £8.3m loan used to build a new stand, and £15.1m of other loans, £13.3m of which was lent by Hemmings’ firm Guild Ventures.

Guild gave Preston £550,000 in May so it could pay the players’ wages. At the time, Shaw said the business was losing money and it would need more cash before the start of next season.

Hemmings today threatened to withdraw all financial support for the club if the offer wasn’t accepted by enough of Preston’s shareholders.

“The board believes that without continued financial support from Guild, the board would almost certainly have to conclude that there is no reasonable prospect of avoiding an insolvent liquidation, in which event the group would cease to trade and would be forced into some form of insolvency procedure,” read a statement Friday.

Preston shares will be cancelled from trading on AIM if at least three quarters of the votes cast at a general meeting back the deal.