Who is bidding to buy English football club Manchester United?
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The race to buy Manchester United is taking shape.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and local boy-turned-billionaire Jim Ratcliffe are the frontrunners, based on publicly announced bids for one of the world’s most iconic soccer teams.
The current American owners, the Glazer family, are still in a position to retain control of the team, despite hopes among supporters that they will leave after repeated attempts by fans to oust them.
After last week’s second round of bidding, Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe remain in contention for what is likely to be the largest sale of a sports team, with the price estimated to reach $6 billion.
Sheikh Jassim’s latest offer was made on Friday night, a person with knowledge of the bid said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.
Bank of America Raine’s decision to extend the deadline for rival bidders to make their second bid has added to the sense that it is effectively a two-horse race to take over the 20-time English league champions outright. .
Raine is handling the proposed sale on behalf of the Glazers and is also exploring other “strategic options” that could see the family survive by selling a minority stake or taking other funding options.
The Glazers, who own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, want to complete the process in time for the start of the offseason transfer window, when prospective new owners are expected to invest significantly in the team.
Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Siliakus made his wish known over the past week. His plans include a 50% joint ownership scheme with fans.
But ahead are Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe.
Sheikh Jassim is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank and is the son of a former prime minister.
He has made an offer to buy the Glazer family, and the bid is said to be entirely separate from Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain.
Sheikh Jassim, described as a United fan, plans to buy the club through his Nine Two foundation, named after the club’s famous ’92 youth team’ that produced stars such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs. It was also the year he became a supporter.
Concerns have been raised about Qatar’s human rights record, and Sheikh Jassim’s plans will appeal to fans on a number of levels.
He has promised to rid the club of debt and invest in the stadium, training center and playing squad in a bid to “return the club to its former glory on and off the pitch”.
Meanwhile, supporters hope a Qatari owner will be able to compete with the extravagant spending of Manchester City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, which has dominated English football for the past 10 years.
The billionaire owner of petrochemical giant INEOS is one of Britain’s richest men and has been a United fan since childhood.
Born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, he says United is focused on winning the Champions League for the first time since 2008 and making it “the number one club in the world once again”.
Ratcliffe has bid for a 69% stake in Glazers, a person with knowledge of the offer said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the bid have not been made public.
INEOS says it aims for a “modern, progressive, fan-centric approach to ownership”.
Ratcliffe is worth $15.1 billion and already owns French club Nice, cycling team INEOS, owns a third of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team and competes in the America’s Cup with sailing team INEOS Britannia.
Last year he failed in an attempt to buy Premier League rivals Chelsea.
American investment firm Elliott Management is an interesting addition to the process, as it has not made a bid for a full takeover.
However, Elliott has bid for a minority stake and is ready to offer capital or finance to other potential buyers, a person with knowledge of the process said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the bid.
A minority stake or capital investment could provide a way for the Glazers to remain in control while carrying out the necessary development at United’s prestigious, but aging, Old Trafford stadium.
Elliott took the reins at AC Milan in 2018, stabilizing the Italian club’s finances and leading it to its first league title in 11 years last season.
Milan was sold to RedBird Capital Partners last year for about $1.3 billion.