Man Utd takeover: Sheikh Jassim makes £5bn bid, INEOS majority stake offer in

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Sheikh Jassim has made a world-record bid in excess of £5bn to buy Man Utd with INEOS’ majority-stake offer also submitted ahead of Friday’s 10pm deadline.

The chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank’s final offer for the club was confirmed minutes before the 10pm deadline set by the incumbent Glazer family at the end of the third round of bidding, with fellow front-runner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, owner of INEOS, submitting his shortly after.

Sheikh Jassim’s offer would make United the most expensive sports team in history by at least £200m, eclipsing the £4.8bn ongoing deal to buy NFL side Washington Commanders, but still falls short of the Glazers’ own valuation of the club at around £6bn.

It would include a guarantee of a separate pot of investment to strengthen Erik Ten Hag’s side, as well as developing the infrastructure around the club in terms of both the Old Trafford stadium and training ground, as well as the local area.

The Elliott investment fund’s planned bid for a minority stake in the club has yet to be confirmed, along with any other outstanding offers made late in the day.

Ratcliffe’s bid would buy only just over 50 per cent of United’s shares, leaving the Glazers with a minority shareholding of around 20 per cent, and still exerting a degree of influence over matters at Old Trafford.

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.

The final round of bidding moves the club a step closer to ending the five-month saga since the Glazers first announced they were considering selling United in November 2022.

“People close to the Sheikh have been telling me they’re convinced this is the best bid,” said Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol.

“They think there’s not one that comes close to this. It’s for 100 per cent of the club, it’s debt free, and money will be made available not just to Erik Ten Hag but also for improving the infrastructure around the club; doing the kind of thing Man City have done in Manchester.

“They believe this is the best bid, the final bid they’re going to make – now it’s up to the Glazers. Are they really serious about selling Man Utd with a world-record bid on the table? It’s not just exceptional for them, and will see them make an awful lot of profit, but the Qataris believe it’s also the best offer for the sake of the club.”

Over the coming days the Glazer family and Raine Group, who helped to complete Chelsea’s sale to American billionaire Todd Boehly last year, are expected to consider the bids on the table and which, if any, to accept.

More clarity on the situation is then expected next week.

Analysis: Do the Glazer family really want to sell?
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“To put Sheikh Jassim’s £5bn into context, Chelsea went for half that, and the Washington Commanders NFL team were sold for about £4.8bn last month, though that deal hasn’t been ratified yet.

“It’s up to the Glazers now, this is the final bid – take it or leave it. A lot of people don’t think the Glazers want to sell, but the people I’ve spoken to close to the Qataris are convinced that they do.

“People in the US are also saying they wouldn’t have gone through this process for five months if they weren’t serious about selling. It just depends if £5bn is enough.

“But if you’re Erik Ten Hag or a Man Utd supporter you want something to happen quickly.”

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.

Elliott Management

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.

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