Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman of chemicals giant Ineos Group Holdings SA, is poised to lead the race in acquiring a significant stake in the English football powerhouse, Manchester United Plc, according to knowledgeable sources. Ratcliffe’s recently revised offer has reportedly outshone a competing proposal from Qatari investors.
Sources indicate that Jim Ratcliffe is currently engaged in discussions with the Glazer family, the US-based owners of Manchester United, as well as their advisers, regarding the finer points of the potential deal.
As per the terms under consideration, Ratcliffe is contemplating an offer for shares held by both the Glazers and minority stakeholders in Manchester United. This arrangement could potentially result in Ratcliffe securing an initial ownership stake of approximately 25%, potentially valuing the club at an excess of £5 billion ($6.1 billion).
Insiders reveal that the Glazer family is favoring Ratcliffe’s bid for a minority stake over the Qatari offer for the entire club. The Manchester United board is slated to convene and deliberate on the latest proposal in the coming days.
It is imperative to note that the ongoing deliberations are yet to solidify into a definitive transaction. While the Glazer family appears closer than ever to a favorable agreement, the situation remains dynamic, and the Qatari group may still enhance their bid.
As of Thursday’s close of trading, shares in Manchester United experienced a 0.8% decline in New York, reflecting a market valuation of approximately $3.2 billion. Notably, the stock has demonstrated a commendable surge of over 50% over the past year.
Bloomberg News previously reported that Ratcliffe had restructured his offer for Manchester United, addressing concerns raised by minority stakeholders, including Lindsell Train, Ariel Investments LLC, and Eminence Capital, who were apprehensive about being excluded from the deal.
An agreement, if reached, would mark the culmination of a protracted battle for ownership of one of the most coveted assets in the world of sports. Manchester United’s participation in the English Premier League, coupled with its storied legacy and expansive global fan base, has made it an attractive prospect for investors seeking a foothold in the world’s wealthiest football league.
Jim Ratcliffe, a devoted Manchester United supporter, has been locked in competition with a Qatari consortium spearheaded by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani. Ratcliffe’s proposition could potentially allow select members of the Glazer family, notably Joel and Avram Glazer, to maintain their investment, at least in the short term. This prospect is likely to incite discontent among certain factions of Manchester United supporters who have voiced their displeasure with the current ownership’s perceived underperformance.
The sale process is being managed by advisors from the US-based firm, Raine Group LLC. Representatives for Raine, Ratcliffe, and Manchester United have declined to provide official comments. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Qatari group affirmed that their offer for full ownership of Manchester United remains on the table, asserting it to be the optimal solution for the club.
Almost a year has elapsed since the Glazers publicly announced their intent to undertake a strategic review of their ownership of the club. Progress in the bidding process has been deliberate, largely due to the intricate web of interests held by various stakeholders.
In an earlier proposal, Ratcliffe sought to acquire a substantial 69% of shares held by the Glazers, leaving minimal benefits for the remaining stockholders. A prominent shareholder expressed concern in a missive to the club’s board, cautioning that independent directors could be susceptible to legal action if they favored one set of shareholders over another.
Manchester United, boasting a record 13 Premier League titles, stands as one of England’s most illustrious football clubs. However, its supremacy in English football has experienced a shift in recent years, with crosstown rivals Manchester City FC claiming multiple honors following their acquisition by Abu Dhabi investors in 2008.
Former Manchester United icon, David Beckham, articulated in a recent CNBC interview that the time was ripe for new leadership to steer the club into the future.