• Friday, September 29, 2023
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Qataris make final bid in battle for Manchester United


Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani threatens to walk away from process by end of the week

Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has made a final attempt to win the battle for Manchester United, making another offer and threatening to walk away from the protracted bidding war this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jassim and his Doha-based Nine Two Foundation have submitted an improved offer for the Premier League club, one of the people said, in a last-ditch attempt to beat British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe to one of the most prized assets in sport.

The bid will be Jassim’s last and he “will no longer engage with the process” after this Friday, the person added. The son of a former Qatari prime minister, Jassim is trying to buy 100 per cent of the New York-listed club, whereas Ratcliffe is only seeking majority control.

More than five months since the Glazer family said they would consider selling Manchester United, they have yet to confirm their plans for the club despite receiving multiple bids from Jassim and Ratcliffe.

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The latest bid from Jassim was at an “enormous premium” to United’s share price, the person said, declining to give a price. United shares closed at $18.41 on Tuesday in New York, valuing the club’s equity at about $3bn.

Jassim, who has kept a low profile throughout the bidding process, made a third-round bid that valued the club at roughly £5bn, the FT has previously reported.

The FT revealed last week that the six Glazer siblings who control the club are considering a sale of their shares in proportion to their holdings, paving the way for Ratcliffe to take control. The billionaire could then acquire their remaining shares in the coming years under a phased buyout.

Jassim’s threat to walk away from the process by the end of the week comes as pressure is building on the Glazers to make a decision. United’s future remains uncertain with the opening of the transfer window for signing new players just a week away.

Manchester United finished third in the Premier League this season, securing qualification for the Uefa Champions League after a year out of Europe’s lucrative club tournament.

United’s supporters have long protested against the Glazers, who acquired the club in a £790mn leveraged buyout in 2005, for loading it with debt and extracting dividends.

During their ownership, rival clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur have built new grounds that are more modern than United’s Old Trafford stadium.

Ratcliffe’s attempt to pull off a deal has been complicated by United’s dual class share structure, which would require the billionaire to secure the B shares currently held by the Glazers and that come with extra voting rights.