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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 19:40 GMT

UK: Scotland

Celtic share sale 'delights' Fergus McCann

Fergus McCann promised to sell to a wide range of investors

Former Celtic managing director Fergus McCann says the sale of his 51% stake in the club has been a resounding success.

BBC Scotland's Bob Wylie reports from Glasgow
And the former Parkhead chief applauded fans for seizing their opportunity to buy into the club.

Mr McCann confirmed, as expected, that Irish businessman Dermot Desmond now has just under 20% of the holdings to become the club's new main shareholder.

Of the 9,997,728 ordinary shares put up for sale last month, a total of 7,525,880 valid acceptances have been received - just over 75% - generating a sum of £21,072,464.

[ image: Dermot Desmond: Biggest single shareholder]
Dermot Desmond: Biggest single shareholder
But with the shares being underwritten it means none are unsold and all went for the same price, £2.80 each, with Mr Desmond upping his 13.8% stake by 6% to 19.8%.

Mr McCann said that about 17% of the share total has been taken up by city institutions, which was lower than anticipated, but he stressed that the fans will collectively own more than half the Glasgow club.

After saving the club from bankruptcy in 1994 it was always his intention to distribute his shares among supporters and on Friday Mr McCann said he was delighted with what he called an "overwhelming" response.

"I am pleased with the overall result of my share offer and placing, especially with the take-up by supporters who have invested more heavily than in the initial offer by the club in 1994-5," he said.

'Great potential'

"Although the actual number of shareholders, 5,300, is lower than expected, the average investment per person was higher which shows their great confidence in Celtic's future and satisfaction with the share performance up to now.

"Shareholder supporters will now own approximately 63% of the share total.

"Institutions will own approximately 17% of the overall share total, their strong interest in the placing and offer reflects the strength and great potential of the company.

"Dermot Desmond will own 19.8% of the share total.

[ image: Fergus McCann: Satisfied with the club's progress]
Fergus McCann: Satisfied with the club's progress
"I was happy with how I was able to assist over 3,000 subscribers through the interest free payment plan.

"This helped to ensure that a solid majority of the shareholders of Celtic will be supporters.

"I would like to thank them and the supporters in general for responding and backing my plan over the last five years."

The disposal, which was underwritten by institutions for £40m, gave current shareholders an opportunity to increase their portfolios and allowed season ticket holders and staff an opportunity to purchase a stake.

Current shareholders were able to buy one new share for every three currently held.

Mr McCann has agreed to gift a potential £1.5m of the profit to help fund a Celtic football academy.

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