Monetising the Scottish Catholic Diaspora
Co-manager of Lindsell Train Global Equity fund.
8th February 2018
With the the Annual General Meeting of Celtic PLC set for the 21st of November focus is usually on the man who owns the majority of the shares in the Club, Dermot Desmond and the Chief Executive Officer Peter Lawwell. The names Michael Lindsell and Nick Train might not be quite as familiar,to many of the Scottish Catholics who follow Celtic, nor to many others from the club’s wide support.I read the above comment in an Investment Industry publication called ‘Trustnet’. The strapline for the publication is ‘Be Better Informed.’
Probably a few million words have been written about the scandal surrounding Rangers Football Club and it’s liquidation.The illusion of the same club, 54 Titles and all the tomfoolery that goes with the pretence that nothing really happened. What makes me feel uncomfortable is the behaviour and lack leadership displayed by the executives of Scotland’s biggest and most influential Club, Celtic FC. With this nagging question in mind I started a bit of research to try and elucidate why.
At the time of writing it will cost you £1.63 to buy a share in Celtic PLC. On the 13th of October 2017 the same share would have cost you £1. On the 23rd of October 2013, all you would have had to part with was 64p. Clearly the Markets like Celtic at this moment in time. Shareholders are happy when the numbers are positive but many supporters feel a disquiet that just won’t go away about this whole ‘Rangers’ business.
Something feels wrong.
According to the records on Celtic’s Official Website, Dermot Desmond owns 34.9% of the shares in the club. Or to put it another way 16,342,110 shares. We could debate all day long the extent and motives behind Dermot’s ‘Emotional Purchase’ of Celtic shares. Desmond rarely comments on anything. His infamous favourable comments about Sevco in 2012, are a clue to his views regarding the loss of competition and revenue that the collapse of Rangers represented.
“For us, it’s disappointing that they’re (Sevco) not there,” Desmond told BBC Sport.
“But that was a decision by the various clubs, a decision by the various leagues and we accept those decisions.”
And he would have relished the continued domestic competition with Rangers at a time when he believes manager Neil Lennon has created a particularly strong squad.
“Rangers is a great football club, it has a great history and it’s unfortunate that they have been relegated,” said the Irish businessman.
“We would certainly like to contest with them every week – we believe we’ve got a better team and a better management structure.’
Further evidence of Celtic PLC’s view was given by Peter Lawwell on the 31st of August 2014 Lawwell told The Glasgow Herald’s Stewart Fisher,
“When Rangers went down we took £100 off the season tickets,” Lawwell said. “So that is £4m for two years. The Rangers games, that is at least another £3m. The fact there is a perception among our supporters that there is no competition and you are going to win anyway, and you don’t go to the game, so it could be £10m. We could have lost £10m a year, quite easily, on the back of Rangers going down.”
The words ‘went down’and ‘going down’ illustrate the PLC’s thinking.
Since about 2011 I have watched the highly respected Investment Company Linsdell Train Limited(LT) buy shares in Celtic PLC. In November 2011 LT purchased a 6% stake in Celtic and they have gradually increased their holding to become the second largest shareholder in our club. Currently they own 17.4% of the shares or 16,342,110 shares. These guys are Blue Chip…pardon the pun. They aren’t based in a address of convenience in Hong Kong or a pop up business in Johannesburg. Any reader can very quickly establish their bona fides by a simple search online. They are highly rated in a risky business, they are serious players.
‘Mr (Nick) Train buys high quality businesses that grind out growth slowly over the long term . He buys a long term focus and buys companies that have survived many economic cycles.’
LT’s own website tells us that they are interested in ‘cash generative franchises with a focus on Consumer Branded Goods, Internet, Media, Software, Pharmaceuticals and Financials.