Prospective Manchester United owners set to meet with club, report says

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The prospective owners of Manchester United are set for meetings with the club at its famous Old Trafford stadium about a potential sale, according to the BBC. 

The two competing bidders will each receive a presentation on the potential sale process, the BBC reported Wednesday, with representatives of Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani due to visit the club Thursday.

Sheikh Jassim is the chair of Qatar Islamic Bank and the son of a past prime minister of Qatar. His bid for the club will be debt-free 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.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, chief executive of the chemical giant Ineos, has also made a bid for Manchester United and is expected to receive a presentation at Old Trafford on Friday. 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.

The American Glazer family took control of Manchester United in 2005. The club had a calculated value of $4.6 billion in 2022, according to Forbes.

Related: Manchester United owners push sale deadline back, report says

In November, the Glazers confirmed they were exploring potential financial investment or an outright sale of the storied Premier League club. The owners want at least $6.08 billion, according to the Telegraph.

If the Glazer family wants to proceed with a sale, Ratcliffe wants to buy their full 69% shareholding, according to the BBC.

Citing sources close to the process, the Telegraph reported that the Glazer family is now targeting a sale before the soccer transfer window opens in June. Previously, the owners had been looking to complete a deal in the first quarter of 2023 or by the end of April, the report said.

Manchester United declined to comment when contacted by MarketWatch this week.

“The process is ongoing at the moment, and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani still firmly stands behind his bid for 100% of Manchester United,” a spokesperson for the Nine Two Foundation told MarketWatch this week. “We cannot comment on any particular meetings at this stage.”

Related: Manchester United stock soars as owners explore possible sale

Ineos declined to provide an update on the situation, when contacted by MarketWatch.

Shares of operator Manchester United Ltd.

closed up 2.5% Wednesday, compared with the S&P 500’s 

decline of 0.7%. Manchester United’s stock is down 9.6% this year, compared with the S&P 500’s gain of 1.4%.

American investment group Elliott Management Corp., which previously acquired Italian giant A.C. Milan, is also prepared to step into the Manchester United sale. While Elliott has no interest in buying the club, it is willing to provide financing to a bidder. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that Elliott isn’t currently aligned with any particular bidder.

Elliott Management declined to comment when contacted by MarketWatch this week.

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.

Also read: Qatar World Cup controversies raise profile of sports-related ESG, says portfolio manager

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

Manchester United is the most successful team 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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