Former SA tax fugitive Dave King back in spotlight, wins battle for Rangers FC

By Alec Hogg

Serial entrepreneur Dave King appears to have landed the prize of his life by wresting control of Glasgow’s Rangers FC, closing an unlikely circle for a lad who grew up in one of the poorest parts of the Scottish city.

King made over R1bn through promoting and then offloading shares in the boom-bust stock Specialised Outsourcing. That sparked a long battle with South Africa’s tax authorities who claimed King was liable for tax – he maintained as the sale of shares was a capital gain, he was not.

After settling his dispute by paying SARS R706m, King returned to the public company scene as executive chairman of MICROMega, a JSE-listed company which operates in the same space as the defunct Specialised Outsourcing. Reminiscent of its predecessor’s rollicking run, the MICROMega share price has risen 90% in the past year, but on painfully thin volumes.

The Times of London reports that King has won his battle for Rangers FC and yesterday’s resignation of Rangers FC chairman David Somers was “a clear case of jumping before he was pushed. Somers has conceded his regime has no chance of winning Friday’s extraordinary general meeting, at which King needs to carry the support of 51 per cent of the Championship club’s shareholders.”

One of King’s trusts, New Oasis Asset Limited, is the biggest shareholder of the football club with 14.6% of the equity. The share price of Rangers FC has dropped by half since listing in late 2012. But although it has fallen on hard times, the club is still very much one of Scotland’s Big Two.

The Times says: “King, along with Paul Murray and John Gilligan, will be greeted as heroes by a Rangers support who will finally have men in the boardroom they can relate to. Much hard work lies ahead for the former Ibrox director and his team as they set out to rebuild the club. The writing was on the wall for the present board the moment the EGM was finally confirmed. Their attempts to wriggle out of an explosive Ibrox showdown by twice trying, and twice failing, to hire a London hotel as a venue for the meeting were the actions of a doomed board.”

The London newspaper suggests that King will have his hands full trying to rescue the club he has supported since childhood. Among these is having to convince the Scottish Football Association he has the credibility to run Rangers after his well publicised run-in with SARS.

The newspaper reports that King “does not believe his tax history would be an obstacle to holding office.”

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