Bid chaos leads to fears United sale will not happen… What are the Glazers playing at?

What are the Glazers playing at? At least three takeover bids have been submitted for Manchester United but a chaotic process and family uncertainty has led to fears any sale won’t happen

  • There are growing concerns that no outright sale of the club will happen soon
  • The highest offers so far are in the region of £5bn with the Glazers wanting £6bn
  •  It would be more than 10 times United’s revenue of £583m in the 2021-22 season

At least three ‘full takeover’ bids have now been submitted for Manchester United and at least one other ‘funding bid’ put forward that could leave the Glazer family in control.

With the highest offers so far in the region of £5billion, from Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, of Qatar, and from Britain’s Sir Jim Ratcliffe and with the Glazers understood to want at least £6bn, there are growing concerns no outright sale will happen.

This would be seen as worst-case scenario by many fans, who have largely reviled the Glazers since their leveraged buyout in 2005.

Ratcliffe tabled a formal second offer for the club on Thursday, which included details about his plans to modernise Old Trafford, including the phases of development, where the money for that would come from (Goldman Sachs would organise financing) and how long it would take.

Sheikh Jassim’s advisors submitted their bid to merchant bankers Raine late yesterday, or Friday night, New York time. Those close to Sheikh Jassim’s team say he remains confident of success and has ample funds not just to buy the club but invest hugely in the stadium and squad and the local community.

At least three ‘full takeover’ bids have now been submitted to buy Manchester United 

Fears are growing that the Glazers will not sell with the highest bid £1bn off their asking price

Fears are growing that the Glazers will not sell with the highest bid £1bn off their asking price 

The third ‘full takeover’ bid was lodged on Friday by Thomas Zilliacus, a 69-year-old Singapore-based Finnish businessman. He told The Mail on Sunday he was unaware until a week ago that the sales process had moved so far. He said he personally called the co-founder of Raine, Jeff Sine, on Wednesday, signed an NDA, and submitted a bid. It is believed it was for less than £4bn. Zilliacus conceded that ‘my wealth is not on the same scale as Sheikh Jassim or Jim Ratcliffe, but my offer will be in cash and I’ve had interest from others to join me.’

Raine have also received at least one offer for a minority stake in the club from Elliott Investment Management, a firm based in Florida who have about £60bn of assets under management and used to own AC Milan. Accepting EIM’s offer would allow the Glazers to retain control but also have funds, provided by EIM, to upgrade Old Trafford.

By the close of trading on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, Manchester United’s share price valued the club at £3.22bn. If the Glazers really are holding out for £6bn, they are seeking a massive premium on the club’s ‘objective’ value. A premium is not ridiculous, for one of global sport’s most high-profile assets, but £6bn does not make sense in purely business terms today.

A price of £6bn would be more than 10 times United’s revenue of £583m in the 2021-22 season, a high multiple. Chelsea sold last year for £2.5bn, or five times their revenue, and many observers believe Todd Boehly and Co overpaid. The ball is now in the Glazers’ court and there are three strands of thought over what is happening as the family, consisting of six sibling co-owners of United, weigh up their next move.

The eldest of them, Avram, 62, is understood to be against a full sale of the club and so by asking Raine to attract bidders, he was effectively on a ‘fishing expedition’ to see how much they might theoretically get, at some undefined point on the future.

Joel Glazer, 55, is thought to be reticent but ‘persuade-able’ about a full sale, as long as they bank a massive premium. So the second possibility is a sale will proceed, but only at close to £6bn.

The other four siblings, Bryan 58, Kevin 56, Edward 50 and Darcie 52, are rumoured to be in favour of selling at a big profit, but not necessarily for as much as £6bn. Family dynamics will dictate what happens and, as the Glazers are famously silent, it is anyone’s guess what happens next.