Manchester United Sale Bids Enter Final Stage

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The Raine Group, the investment banking firm hired to facilitate a potential sale of English soccer giant Manchester United, has given bidders an April 28 deadline for their third and final offers.

That extra level of bids has led to Finnish billionaire Thomas Zilliacus pulling out of the process. But two finalists still remain. One of those, Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, says that he is prepared to buy a majority stake in the club for $6.2 billion, and that he can do it without borrowing any money.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is also a finalist for the sale, but he would have to borrow money to buy a majority stake. He’s also said to be only interested in the 69% of the club owned by current owners the Glazer family, and not the 100% that Thani wants to own.

Glazers Could Retain Control of Club

Along with the two bids for a takeover of United, the Glazers have reportedly received as many as 10 other offers for a minority stake in the club.

Investment groups Elliott Management, Ares Management Corporation, Sixth Street Partners, and The Carlyle Group have made their interest in purchasing a portion of the club known publicly. The rest have made their interest known to Raine, but not to the general public.

Joel and Avram Glazer are cochairmen of Manchester United, and are reported to be less interested in selling the club that has been run by their family since 2005, when their father, Malcolm Glazer, took a controlling stake. The shares owned by Malcolm Glazer’s other four children, Kevin, Bryan, Edward, and Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, are more readily available.

Of the shares of the club owned by the six Glazer siblings, 19.11% are owned by Joel, 18.15% by Darcie, 17.23% by Bryan, 14.28% by Avram, 13.77% by Kevin, and 12.99% by Edward.

The Glazers once owned 100% of the club. But Darcie, Bryan, Avram, Kevin, and Edwards have all sold percentages of their ownership over the years.

No other single person or group owns more than 10% of the club.

The Value of Manchester United

The Glazers first announced their exploration of a possible sale back in November, and one of the big reasons that the process has dragged on for more than five months is the evaluation of the club’s worth.

Last year, when Forbes put out its list of most valuable sports teams in the world, United was ranked 19th at $4.6 billion. The current market evaluation has them valued at $3.38 billion, while the Glazers themselves have valued the club at $7.4 billion (£6 billion). Malcolm Glazer paid $1.4 billion for the club in 2005.

Last year, Chelsea sold for £4.25 billion, and the Denver Broncos of the NFL sold for $4.65 billion. The current sale of the Washington Commanders that is working its way through NFL approval is close to $6 billion.

There was a time when Manchester United was the undisputed No. 1 most popular soccer club in the world. But in recent years, most surveys show Real Madrid and Barcelona ahead of United. It’s been 10 years since United last won the English Premier League, and the last time they won the Champions League was 2008.

From 1993 to when manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, United won 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and they twice won the Champions League. The club is now on its eighth manager since Ferguson retired after 27 seasons in Manchester.

Manchester United is in the FA Cup Semi-Finals on Sunday, April 23, and has them as +105 underdogs against Brighton.

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