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HomeBusinessQatari sheikh bids for Man Utd as billionaire Ratcliffe enters raceTAZAA...

Qatari sheikh bids for Man Utd as billionaire Ratcliffe enters raceTAZAA News

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A consortium led by a Qatari banker announced on Friday that it had submitted an offer to take full control of Manchester United, with British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe also reported to have submitted a bid.

Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Soni “has today confirmed the bid for 100 percent of Manchester United Football Club,” his press statement said ahead of a “soft” deadline for bidders on Friday.

Ratcliffe’s Ineos is the only other bidder to have formally declared an interest and is keen on a sports portfolio that already includes French side Nice and Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport, as well as cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, formerly Team Sky.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that he had told Reign Group, the US merchant bank handling the sale, that he could be a “long-term custodian” of the club.

A BBC report said Ratcliffe had submitted a bid before the 2200 GMT deadline.

A request from Saudi Arabia is also expected.

In a statement, Sheikh Jassim, the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), did not give details about the amount of money that was offered in the bid for United.

However, according to reports, the price could reach a record $6 billion.

The application, announced on Friday, will be “completely debt-free” through the Sheikh Jassim Nine Two Foundation, which will “invest in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports”. will do”.

The club’s current owners, the US-based Glazer family, announced in November that they were open to selling or investing in England’s record 20-time champions, prompting talk of a bidding war between Qatari and Saudi Arabian interests.

But with United’s shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), brokers acting for the club are obliged to consider offers even after Friday’s “soft” deadline.

United shares rose nearly two percent in after-hours trading after the Qatar bid was announced. On Friday, they closed up 1.9 percent.

Both Ratcliffe and Sheikh Josim, 41, who studied at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, claim to be childhood United fans.

– Competition questions –

A takeover of both could raise competition questions, given Nice’s British ownership and Qatari control of French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

UEFA competitions, such as the Champions League and Europa League, do not allow two clubs to enter if the owner of one controls or can influence the other.

However, a statement issued late Friday on behalf of Sheikh Jassim emphasized that he is a private individual and has no connection to the Qatar Sports Investment Group, which owns PSG.

Any Saudi investment in United would draw the ire of rights groups, which have spoken out against the Gulf state following the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Peter Frankenthal, Amnesty UK’s director of economic affairs, said it was “a continuation of this state-backed sports laundering scheme” and would oppose the takeover of Qatar on the same grounds.

Deeply disliked among supporters due to the club being saddled with £790m ($961m) in debt in 2005, the Glazers have angered fans by backing a failed 2021 Europa League bid.

The Telegraph reported that sources close to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) are downplaying the possibility of a state-backed bid given their existing involvement with Premier League rivals Newcastle United.

The sale price of $6 billion for the three-time European champions would break the club record fee set by Chelsea last year.

A consortium led by LA Dodgers partner Todd Bohli and private equity firm Clearlake Capital paid £2.5bn for the Blues and pledged a further £1.75bn for further investment in infrastructure and players.

United, one of the most successful clubs in English football history, have not won the Premier League since 2013 and have not won any silverware since 2017.

They are third in the Premier League after an improvement in form under manager Erik ten Haag, who took over before the start of the current campaign.

Manchester United will host Newcastle in the League Cup final at Wembley on February 26.

United were held to a 2-2 draw by Barcelona in the first leg of their Europa League play-off on Thursday and Ten Haag insisted speculation over his future at the club is not proving to distract his side.

“We follow it,” Ten Haag said. “This is our club… But we focus on football, on training and the way we play, on the games.”


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