Today, Sunday, billionaire Jim Ratcliffe completed the purchase of a stake in Manchester United, beating competing offers from institutions affiliated with oil countries and hedge funds, and ending the bidding war for one of the most prestigious English clubs, which was characterized by intensity and media uproar.
The deal to acquire 25% of the club’s shares was concluded through the chemical industries group “Ineos”, owned by billionaire Ratcliffe, at a price of $33 per share, which estimates the value of Manchester United at $5.4 billion, which is less than the hopes of its owners who were looking forward to… A valuation of approximately $6 billion.
Acceptance of the offer by Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest people, marks the end of a long sale process that the Glazer family officially began just over a year ago. At one time, the billion-dollar deal sparked noise and speculation about its fate, coinciding with the launch of the English Premier League and the drawing of the lottery for players to join the National Football League.
Bloomberg was the first to report that the Glazer family was considering selling a minority stake in the club, and that Ratcliffe was considered the most likely candidate to win the deal.
According to the statement issued on Sunday, Ratcliffe will acquire 25% of the Class B shares owned by the Glazer family, and will also initiate a bid to purchase 25% of the Class A shares listed on the stock exchange.
Also, the British billionaire will invest $300 million in the club. He will have two seats on the board of directors of Manchester United.
A competing Qatari offer
For most of last year, Ratcliffe faced a rival bid from Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the third son of the former Qatari prime minister, to take full control of the club. But none of the offers matched the desire of co-chairs Joel and Avram Glazer to strengthen Manchester United’s position as the most valuable sporting asset in the world.
The Qatari group explicitly announced that it would not increase the amounts it would pay to buy the club. Before the bidding war began, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, the former Prime Minister of Qatar and father of Sheikh Jassim, told Bloomberg that he was not a fan of investing in English Premier League football.
Last October, the Qatari group withdrew its offer, which was said to be around £5bn, but likely included debt and a range of financing add-ons such as the redevelopment of the training ground.
The Qatari group’s relationship with Raine Group, the investment bank responsible for the sale, has deteriorated, according to people familiar with the matter.
It remains to be seen how Ratcliffe, a self-made billionaire, will run the club alongside Joel and Avram Glazer, who
They inherited the team from their father, Malcolm, who made a fortune from a range of investments including real estate and broadcasting.
The deal win also reinforces Ratcliffe’s plans to build a personal sports empire after failing in a late bid to buy Chelsea FC last year. It is noteworthy that Ratcliffe, through Ineos, also owns the French First Division club Nice, the cycling group formerly known as Team Sky, and a stake in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team. -AMG Petronas) competing in Formula 1 competitions.
Fans were angry
The Glazer family’s decision to keep the club is sure to anger fans, who have protested for years seeking to oust the unpopular owner.
Malcolm Glazer bought Manchester United through a debt-backed takeover in 2005, saddled them with huge debts, and the family has faced distrust from hardcore fans ever since. Although these sentiments had subsided in the early years of their ownership of the club as the team continued to win trophies under Alex Ferguson, dissatisfaction steadily grew after the famous coach retired in 2013.
The family has appointed investment bank Rain Group, which also handled the sale of Chelsea Football Club, to attract interest in one of the league’s dominant teams which has struggled in recent years.
An excessive evaluation of the English club
But while Chelsea witnessed a fierce battle to win the deal, Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe were the two most prominent parties to announce their interest in buying Manchester United, after high interest rates coupled with what many considered an excessive valuation led to the exclusion of many bidders.
A number of financial institutions, including Elliott Associates LP and Carlyle Group Inc., have also made bids, according to people familiar with the matter, but they are only targeting minority stakes in the club.
Some bids sometimes experienced periods of hesitation. In late March, before the deadline for submitting bids in the second round, a wave of contradictory statements and reports emerged regarding bids being submitted, withdrawn, or even not submitted at all, which led to Ratcliffe and Jassim being granted additional time to submit bids.
Attention will now turn to Ratcliffe’s turnaround approach to the struggling club, which has suffered years of poor form and a crumbling stadium.