Deadline for third and final takeover bids of Manchester United is 10pm; Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS preparing bid which would see them own 50 per cent of club, meaning Glazers could retain their 20 per cent stake; Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim will make a 100 per cent bid to buy club
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS are preparing a bid for Manchester United ahead of Friday’s 10pm deadline that would enable Avram and Joel Glazer to remain stakeholders in the club.
INEOS are proposing to own just over 50 per cent of the club, meaning the Glazers could retain their stake of about 20 per cent.
The other leading bidder, Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim, will make an offer to buy 100 per cent of the club, with the Glazers wanting at least £6bn.
Ratcliffe’s potential deal would not be welcomed by large sections of United’s support who have campaigned for the Glazers – whose leveraged buyout in 2005 plunged the club into huge debt – to quit Old Trafford.
American bank the Raine Group are facilitating the sale of the club, with the Glazer family considering either selling or bringing in external investment after announcing last November they were seeking “strategic alternatives”.
As well as Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim, Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus has gone public in his ambition to complete a full takeover.
One other group known to be involved is American hedge fund Elliott Investment, which has made an offer for a minority stake, but it is unknown how many parties have entered the process.
Earlier this month, Sky News learnt that giant American financial investor Carlyle was in talks about a major investment in United.
Carlyle, which has assets of more than $370bn (£298bn) under management, ranks among the world’s largest private equity firms.
In the UK, it has owned companies including the RAC breakdown recovery service and Addison Lee, the taxi-hire group.
Man Utd bidders in profile
A look at the publicly-known bidders for Manchester United…
Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani
The Qatari sheikh is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank, one of his country’s biggest banks. His father Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani is a former prime minister of the Middle East state. There is relatively little information about him in the public domain, but it is known he attended boarding school in the UK and went on to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, during which time he apparently fell in love with United.
Amid potential controversy about state ownership of clubs, Sheikh Jassim was clear when announcing his bid that his interest was a private initiative through his Nine Two Foundation. He hopes to take 100 per cent control of the club and has vowed, if he does so, to wipe all debts and invest considerably in the club and its infrastructure and support local communities.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe
The 70-year-old Manchester-born businessman is one of the richest people in Britain, with an estimated personal wealth of approximately £6bn. A boyhood United fan who grew up on a council estate, he founded the chemicals firm INEOS in 1998 and oversaw its growth to become a company now worth an estimated £50bn.
His interest in sport has become well known in recent years. He owns French Ligue 1 side Nice and Swiss Super League outfit FC Lausanne-Sport, as well as the cycling team Ineos Grenadiers. Last year he submitted a bid to buy Chelsea, where he once held a season ticket, but ultimately lost out to the American Todd Boehly.
Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus is chairman of the social media group novaM Group and has submitted an offer for Manchester United through XXI Century Capital, an investment firm owned by his holding company.
The 69-year-old, who had a brief political career after attending university, has submitted a unique bid to buy half of the club and says he will allow fans to buy the other half. His net worth is not publicly known, but he is not thought to be worth the same as Ratcliffe.
Manchester United would not be Zilliacus’ first venture into sports, having been chairman of HJK Helsinki between 1982 and 1986. He was also an owner of Finnish ice hockey team Jokerit.
Elliott Management is a US-based hedge fund that has submitted a bid for a minor stake in Manchester United.
The firm previously owned AC Milan but made a significant profit by selling the club to RedBird Capital for €1.2bn in August 2022.
Elliott took control of AC Milan in 2018 when Chinese businessman Li Yonghong defaulted on a £300m-plus debt to the hedge fund. The firm’s London-based managing partner Gordon Singer remains on the board at the Italian club having retained a minor financial interest.
Figures from Elliott, who initially indicated they would help fund a potential bidder, received a tour of Old Trafford and Carrington.
The firm’s continued involvement in the process has led to suggestions the Glazers are looking to stay at United, with their money potentially being used to redevelop the club’s stadium and facilities.