Scottish football club Hearts gets full listing

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The Independent Online
Heart of Midlothian, one of Scotland's oldest football clubs, is to become the first from north of the border to obtain a full stock market listing in a placing which will raise pounds 5.06m.

However, the pounds 14m valuation being put on the club, traditionally supported by Edinburgh's Protestant community, is some way below hopes it would be valued at up to pounds 20m. It comes just a day after investors warmed to news that the Midlands-based Aston Villa would be valued at pounds 126m by its float, in the middle of forecasts.

But analysts said they were not surprised to see the valuation coming down in the wake of the increasing number of football clubs coming to market and the fall in their share prices. Hearts' advisers, stockbroker Williams de Broe, described the 140p-a-share placing price for the new shares, nearly 39 per cent of the enlarged capital, as "realistic".

It will still bring a windfall for the chief executive, Chris Robinson, the Wheatsheaf catering entrepreneur who with Leslie Deans, the chairman, took control of the club in 1994. Their combined stake, acquired for pounds 2m, will be worth pounds 6.4m after the stock market launch, although neither is selling any shares.

The money being raised will be used to finance a pounds 2.97mstand at the club's Tyncastle Park stadium in Edinburgh, the last part of an pounds 8m development. The new accommodation at the Gorgie Road end, traditional home of Hearts fans, will seat 3,450, taking total capacity to 18,300, and incorporate corporate hospitality, conference and banqueting facilities. Mr Robinson said Tyncastle would become the third-best ground in Scotland, after those of Celtic and Rangers, and would incorporate a pounds 238,000 pitch heating system to reduce the number of games cancelled by bad weather.

The prize for Hearts is a new television deal to replace theagreement between all the Scottish clubs and BSkyB, the BBC and Scottish Television currently worth pounds 16m over four years.

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