Bloomberg News

Hearts Sale Plan Derailed as Lithuania Freezes Romanov’s Assets

April 12, 2013

Heart of Midlothian owner Vladimir Romanov’s assets were frozen by a Lithuanian court, derailing any potential sale of the Scottish soccer club.

The assets of Ukio Banko Investicine Grupe, or UBIG, through which Romanov controls 79 percent of Hearts in Edinburgh, were blocked yesterday in the course of a lawsuit against the Russian-born investor and his sister, Olga Goncaruk, Kaunas District Court said today on its website.

“Any sale or transfer” of UBIG’s shares in Hearts or its other property “is forbidden,” Gintare Putnikiene, a spokeswoman for the court in Kaunas said by phone today. Several companies are suing Romanov and Goncaruk to recover “large debts” the two jointly undertook, Putnikiene said.

Regulators in February closed Ukio Bankas AB (UKB1L), a Lithuanian lender that Romanov controlled and used to finance international sport, aluminum and real-estate projects. Foundation of Hearts, an Edinburgh-based supporters group, said on April 9 it was negotiating together with other fan associations to buy a majority of Hearts shares from UBIG.

Besides UBIG assets, which include Hearts’s Tynecastle stadium in the west of the Scottish capital, the court said it also froze property belonging to Romanov and Goncaruk personally and to Birac Europe AB, a company they jointly own.

The arrest order can be appealed within seven days, according to the court’s statement.

Speaking by phone to LNK television last night, Romanov said he wouldn’t comment on the court’s decision until he had more information, according to a report on Vilnius-based LNK’s website. Officials at UBIG couldn’t be immediately reached by telephone at their office in Kaunas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at bbradley13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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