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Formal bids for Manchester United are due to be submitted in the next week amid interest from the US, Middle East and Asia… but the Glazers are UNLIKELY to receive their desired £6bn-£8bn price tag for the club
- Manchester United was put up for sale by the unpopular Glazer owners last year
- Formal bids are set to be submitted in the next week by many interested parties
- Ineos owner and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is the early front-runner
Formal bids for Manchester United are due to be submitted in the next week or so, the Mail on Sunday understands.
The sale, which is expected to attract initial offers of at least £4billion, has attracted considerable interest from potential buyers in the US, the Middle East and Asia.
But the early front-runner in the race to buy United is British billionaire and boyhood fan Jim Ratcliffe, owner of the Ineos chemicals conglomerate.
US investment bank Raine is running the sale on behalf for the Glazer family, who has owned United since a controversial £790million leveraged takeover in 2005 saddled the club with huge debts and sparked fans’ fury.
The Glazers finally put a ‘For Sale’ sign up outside Old Trafford in November when they said they wanted to ‘explore strategic alternatives’ for United ‘including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions’.
Formal bids to take over Manchester United are due to be submitted in the next week or so
The Glazer family first announced they were ready to sell Manchester United last November
United’s share price has shot up on bid hopes since the announcement with the club now valued at £3billion ($3.67billion) on the New York stock market.
A buyer would normally expect to pay around 25 percent more than that for full ownership and control, implying a £4billion price tag.
Analysts say in United’s case the recent share price rise means this premium is already included but higher bids are still likely.
‘There is a vanity asset premium in relation to Manchester United which I suspect has not yet been factored in by the market,’ said football finance expert Kieran Maguire of Liverpool University.
‘The Glazers are hoping for £6billion to £8billion but (the) business fundamentals do not justify that price, especially with a substantial capital expenditure commitment (needed) for a new or enhanced Old Trafford.
‘Therefore it will either be auction headiness or testosterone that results in a price of that nature, but we’ve seen that before.’
The Glazers are in line for a big return on their original outlay if an outright sale can be agreed.
But if they hold out for the maximum price that may deter Ratcliffe and other deep-pocketed suitors such as Qatar Sports Investments, owner of French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
The Qataris are also said to be interested in United’s arch-rivals Liverpool, which was put up for sale by its US owners, the Fenway Sports Group, late last year.
British billionaire and Man United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe has emerged as an early front-runner
The Glazers are expected to want between £6bn-£8bn, but this is considered unlikely
However, the United sale process is understood to be much further down the track – and to have attracted far higher indicative bids.
The Glazers have been busy marketing the club for sale. Co-owner Avram Glazer reportedly flew to the World Cup in Qatar where he is said to have held a number of informal meetings with potential investors.
United even opened a pop-up shop in the Swiss ski resort of Davos during the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum in a bid to raise its profile among wealthy attendees.
Raine, which organised the sale of Chelsea to American Todd Boehly last year in a £4.25billion deal, is likely to follow a similar timetable with United.
Parties have had to sign up to see confidential financial documents and commit to undertaking due diligence before making a formal bid.
The bank will soon evaluate and select a handful of the most credible offers to go through to the next stage before a preferred bidder is chosen.
It remains to be seen if a sale can be completed before the end of the season.
So far Ratcliffe is the only bidder to have publicly declared an interest in buying United.
His proactive approach is in stark contrast to his failed, eleventh-hour attempt to buy Chelsea last summer.