June 17, 2024
Manchester United takeover drama continues as billionaire Jim Ratcliffe submits revised bid

Manchester United takeover drama continues as billionaire Jim Ratcliffe submits revised bid

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe has submitted a revised bid for Manchester United, his representatives have confirmed to MarketWatch Friday.

The soccer world is awaiting news on the rival bids for the famous club, which has been owned by the American Glazer family since 2005. Shares of operator Manchester United Ltd. MANU, +6.19% rose 1% premarket Friday after ending Thursday’s session down 7.3%.

The Guardian reported this week that Wednesday’s deadline for the second round of bids for the club was “dramatically extended” at the last minute. 

Ratcliffe is the chief executive of the chemical giant Ineos. The billionaire’s sporting links are strong: Ratcliffe, who ranks 27th on the Sunday Times Rich List, already owns the French Ligue 1 soccer club OGC Nice and the Ineos Grenadiers professional cycling team. A lifelong Manchester United fan, he was born in Greater Manchester.

Related: Manchester United stock tumbles as takeover drama continues

“Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS can confirm we have submitted a revised bid,” a spokesperson for Ineos told MarketWatch, via email Friday.

Ratcliffe and rival bidder Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani are vying to take control of the club, with the Independent reporting that the offers will be more than $6.2 billion.

MarketWatch has reached out to Manchester United with a request for comment on this story.

Sheikh Jassim is the chair of Qatar Islamic Bank and the son of a past prime minister of Qatar. The Sheikh is bidding for the club through his Nine Two Foundation, which was named in an apparent nod to Manchester United’s “class of ’92” FA Youth Cup-winning team, which included future stars David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt.

Related: Manchester United stock jumps after report of ‘world record bid’ for the club

MarketWatch understands that as the Nine Two Foundation’s bid was submitted Wednesday, the deadline was extended for all bidders, with the Nine Two Foundation now using the extension to fine tune its bid, if needed.

On Wednesday Sky Sports reported that Manchester United was set to receive a “world record bid” for the club from Sheikh Jassim, topping the $4.65 billion paid last year for the NFL’s Denver Broncos by a group of investors led by Walmart Inc. heir Rob Walton.

“We cannot provide guidance on a figure at this stage,” a spokesperson for the Nine Two Foundation told MarketWatch Wednesday. “Any reporting on the size of the bid so far has been complete speculation.”

The latest developments in the takeover saga could reflect a desire on the part of the American Glazer family, which owns Manchester United, to drive up the value of the bids. Earlier this week the Caught Offside website described the possibility of an extra bidding stage to create “competitive tension” among the bidders, citing unnamed sources.

See Now: Manchester United owners push sale deadline back, report says

The Glazers have come under intense pressure to sell the iconic English football club amid ongoing fan frustration over what is seen as underperformance. The club, one of the biggest names in world soccer, last won the Premier League in 2013. In 2021, the Glazers faced major backlash from fans over planned involvement in the controversial European Super League.

In November, they confirmed they were exploring potential financial investment or an outright sale of the storied Premier League club.

Sky Sports reports that the Glazers are looking for $7.4 billion for the famous club, which had a calculated value of $4.6 billion in 2022, according to Forbes.

Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus also announced a surprise bid to buy Manchester United on Thursday. In a statement, the founder of social media organization novaM Group said he submitted a bid Wednesday through XXI Century Capital, an investment firm owned by his holding company.

Related: Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe meets with Manchester United for sale talks

Manchester United did clinch its first silverware in six years last month, with a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United in the League Cup final.

The club is the most successful in the English top division, which it has won 20 times. A record 13 of those titles have come in the Premier League era, which began in 1992. Founded as Newton Heath in 1878, the club became Manchester United in 1902 and won the first of its 20 league titles six years later.


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