Exclusive: Ratcliffe would pay more than $1.5 bln for 25% Manchester United stake-source

Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of Ineos, has reportedly made a staggering bid of over $1.5 billion for a 25% stake in Manchester United Plc. This bid, if accepted by the Glazer family who currently control the iconic soccer club, would value Manchester United at close to $6.5 billion, excluding its net debt of over $600 million. The terms of Ratcliffe’s bid have been revealed for the first time, indicating his strong interest in acquiring a significant stake in the Premier League club.

Interestingly, Ratcliffe’s offer surpasses a rival bid from Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani, who had proposed acquiring 100% ownership of Manchester United for a reported sum. Sheikh Jassim has now informed the Glazer family that he will not be raising his bid any further. This development has opened up the possibility for Ratcliffe to continue negotiations with the Glazers, which may extend until the end of the month.

The Glazer family, known for their success in real estate, retail, and healthcare, as well as their ownership of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, purchased Manchester United in 2005 for £790 million ($960 million). Currently, the six descendants of the late American businessman Malcolm Glazer control 96% of the voting stock in the club.

Ratcliffe’s proposed deal structure would allow the Glazer family and other shareholders to partially cash out, providing them with an opportunity to benefit from the potential investment. Moreover, Ratcliffe has expressed his willingness to take charge of talent recruitment and management at Manchester United, a move that could address concerns raised by some fans regarding the club’s handling of this crucial aspect of operations.

Jim Ratcliffe, with a two-thirds stake in Ineos, has a net worth estimated at $18.7 billion according to Forbes. Notably, Ineos has a strong presence in the world of sports, owning French Ligue 1 club Nice, Swiss Super League side FC Lausanne-Sport, and partnering with Racing Club Abidjan of Ivory Coast Ligue One. Ineos is also associated with the highly successful cycling team, the Grenadiers.

The valuation expectations of the Glazer family have been ambitious, considering previous soccer deals. For instance, the acquisition of Chelsea Football Club last year was valued at 5.7 times its revenue for the last financial year. Ratcliffe’s proposed valuation for Manchester United is more than double that, equivalent to over 11 times the club’s revenue over the past 12 months.

Manchester United, a record 20-time English champion, boasts a massive fan base of over 650 million worldwide, as per market research firm Kantar. Many of these passionate supporters have been calling for a change in ownership, as they believe the Glazers have overseen a decline in the club’s fortunes. While Manchester United won the League Cup this season under the guidance of Erik ten Hag, their third-place finish in the league, 14 points behind local rivals Manchester City, highlights the need for a significant turnaround.

It remains to be seen whether Ratcliffe’s bid will be accepted by the Glazer family, but the potential injection of substantial investment and Ratcliffe’s proposed involvement in talent management could mark a new chapter for Manchester United. As negotiations continue, fans and stakeholders eagerly await further developments in this high-stakes takeover bid.

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