West Brom shareholders given a Jeremy Peace loan meeting
A group of disgruntled Albion shareholders have been granted a general meeting to discuss a multi-million pound loan made by the club to former owner Jeremy Peace.
Shareholders For Albion (S4A), which represents the majority of small shareholders who still own 12 per cent of the club, have called for the meeting in order to discuss the loan made to Peace in 2014.
Peace borrowed £3.7million but that debt was transferred to current owner Guochuan Lai when the Chinese businessman took over the club in 2016.
The loan has since acquired interest meaning Lai now owes Albion in the region of £4.1million.
Albion’s directors had previously opted against holding a general meeting with S4A about the matter.
But in the hope of drawing a line under the issue, they have now agreed to meet with members in London on Thursday, March 19, at 11am.
The small shareholders were due to receive notification of the meeting today.
It has previously been alleged by a section of S4A that Peace used the loan from the club to his own company – WBA Holdings – to assist a bid he had made, three months earlier, to purchase shares in WBA Group, the club’s parent company.
Peace increased his stake in WBA Group from around 65 per cent to 88 per cent, which he then sold to Lai for around £200m two years later.
Using the loan to increase his own shareholding is something Peace has always strenuously denied.
The former owner has also always maintained the loan was “competitively advantageous” to the club.
At the meeting taking place next month, S4A have proposed two resolutions.
The first calls for a “thorough and independent investigation” into the loan to establish whether directors used the club’s money in the proper way.
The second resolution demands the club take “all lawful and expedient steps” to ensure the loan is repaid.
Lai insists he is currently unable to repay the debt due to regulations preventing money being moved out of China.
Club accounts state there is ‘no fixed date for repayment’ and the loan is ‘payable on demand’, meaning – in theory – whenever Albion need the money, they can ask for it.
They has also never been an indication Lai doesn’t intend to honour this debt.
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