The struggle for Manchester United’s ownership has taken an unexpected turn, as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos is believed to have valued the club higher than their main Qatari competitors.
The final bids for United were submitted before Friday’s 10 pm deadline, inching the six-month-long saga towards its conclusion.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatar Islamic Bank chairman and son of the former Qatari Prime Minister, has been the frontrunner to acquire the club. However, on Saturday, it was revealed that Ineos was the only bidder to have valued the club above £5 billion, with their offer exceeding Qatar’s.
Sheikh Jassim is the sole bidder proposing to purchase 100% of the club in a debt-free takeover.
Ineos aims to buy the Glazers’ 69% shareholding, but they are also believed to have submitted a proposal that would grant them a controlling stake while allowing co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer to retain minority ownership.
A preferred bidder could be granted an exclusivity period within the next week to 10 days.
Insiders close to Sheikh Jassim’s camp maintain that their offer of additional capital investment for the redevelopment of Old Trafford and the club’s training ground is separate from their bid to the Glazers, and they are puzzled by any contrary claims.
The Glazers had been seeking around £6 billion, but none of the bidders have reached that amount, and the Qataris believe their proposal is the best for the club, fans, and community.
So far, Sheikh Jassim has shown no inclination to be pressured into making a substantially higher bid.
The process, which commenced in November with the Glazers’ announcement of a “strategic review” of the club, has experienced some tensions.
There was confusion surrounding the deadline for the second round of bids nearly six weeks ago. Initially, it was hoped that the process would be resolved in the first quarter of the year or by the end of April, but it now seems likely to extend until the end of the season or later, potentially affecting manager Erik ten Hag’s summer transfer plans.
Three American investment firms – Elliott Management, the Carlyle Group, and Ares Management – are proposing to acquire a minority stake. The proceeds could be allocated for the redevelopment of Old Trafford unless Joel and Avram Glazer use them to buy out their four siblings. In that case, they would require financing to renovate the stadium and training ground.
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