Sir Jim Ratcliffe considering minority bid to end Man Utd impasse

Sir Jim Ratcliffe

In the worst possible scenario for Manchester United fans, reports claim Sir Jim Ratcliffe is proposing to take a 25% stake in the club, which leaves US owners, the Glazer family, firmly in control of the board room.

Failsworth-born Sir Jim, a boyhood United fan and owner of chemical giant INEOS, and Qatar-based Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, are both locked in rival bids for the Old Trafford club which was put on the block on November 23, last year, when the Glazers announced they would “consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company”.

No progress has been made since then on determining the future of the club, which the Glazers value at $6bn.

Now, Sky News is reporting that Sir Jim is considering an offer for around 25% of the business, in a bid to break the impasse, priced at around £1.5bn to tempt the Glazers into a deal.

If accepted, it would leave the Glazer family firmly in control of the asset they bought in 2005 for £800m, which sparked fury among fans over a rise in the cub’s debt levels, which have historically remained at around £600m.

Fan groups want a clean break and completely new ownership, with significant investment required for squad building and either a huge renovation of the Old Trafford stadium, or even a completely new ground.

Sir Jim’s previous offer is believed to have included a put-and-call arrangement, enabling him to acquire all the club’s shares after a three-year period.

His latest proposal is seen as an attempt to re-start the process, which has floundered since his and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani’s initial offers.

An INEO spokesperson declined to comment, citing the terms of the non-disclosure agreement the bidders had signed as part of the process.

The Glazer family is understood to be split over what path to follow, having received further offers for minority stakes in the business from the likes of US financial investor Carlyle, Elliott Management, the American hedge fund which until recently owned AC Milan, Ares Management Corporation, a US-based alternative investment group, and Sixth Street, which recently bought a 25% stake in the long-term La Liga broadcasting rights to FC Barcelona.

Yesterday (October 2), United’s shares were trading at around $19.43 on the NYSE, giving the club a market valuation of $3.25bn.

Earlier this year, Manchester United’s largest fans’ group, the Manchester United Supporters Trust, called for the conclusion of the auction “without further delay”.

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