Craig Whyte on verge of Rangers takeover

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The Independent Online

Scottish tycoon Craig Whyte was last night poring over the details of an agreement with Lloyds Banking Group which could allow him to move closer to a takeover of Rangers.

The bank have given him their approval after coming to an agreement over the club's debt - which stood at £27.1million in June and is expected to be slashed to around £21million when Rangers' interim results are announced later today.

That means Lloyds have paved the way for the buy-out to go ahead, albeit there was still an air of caution surrounding the deal last night as Whyte's team prepared to examine the details of the agreement before he decides whether he is satisfied with the terms and signs off the paperwork.

However, it would appear progress has been made as a result of those developments.

A source close to the deal told Press Association Sport: "An agreement has been reached between Lloyds Banking Group and Craig Whyte.

"The debt is no longer an obstacle or an issue."

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesman said in the Scottish Sun: "We were given notification late on Monday that Mr Whyte had officially completed the due diligence process.

"He made some requests to the bank at that point. We have agreed to deliver on what he has asked for. The deal is now a huge step closer because Craig Whyte and the bank have agreed how to address the club's debt as part of the takeover."

The spokesman added: "It's days away from completion but we are now effectively out of the picture."

News of the takeover edging closer was welcomed by Rangers fans, who say Whyte will be given initial backing by the Ibrox faithful despite little being known about the businessman, who made his money as a venture capitalist and is now based in London.

Mark Dingwall, of the Rangers Supporters Trust, told Sky Sports News: "Because of his low-profile, he's going to have to do a bit of a sales job with the fans.

"He will have a honeymoon period, there is no doubt about that.

"The Rangers fans are looking to get right behind somebody who can lead them on to things that are better than they have been for the last four or five years.

"Whoever takes over will have a honeymoon period but will also have a bit of a sales job."

The next step would be for Whyte to conclude terms with current owner Sir David Murray and for a formal offer for Murray International Holdings' shares to be submitted.

Whyte will take over 75% of Murray's shareholding, with London-based property developer Andrew Ellis becoming a 25% partner, once the buy-out is rubber-stamped by the current owner.

Whyte confirmed in a statement to the Stock Exchange in November that he was considering making an offer for Rangers and was in talks with Murray International Holdings.

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