NEW YORK: Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe is ready to pay more than US$1.5 billion for a 25 percent stake in Manchester United Plc with his offer expected to be accepted by the Glazer family, according to close sources yesterday.
The terms of Ratcliffe’s bid, reported in New York for the first time, conclude a valuation of Manchester United of almost US$6.5 billion, excluding its net debt of more than US$600 million, the source said. .
It is slightly higher than rival Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani’s bid for a 100 percent stake in the English Premier League club. Manchester United is currently valued by the stock market at US$3.3 billion.
Sheikh Jassim informed the Glazer family in the past few days that he would not raise his offer further and thus withdrew from any bid.
The Glazers have not reached an agreement with Ratcliffe and negotiations may continue at least until the end of this month, the source said.
The Glazer family, which made its fortune in real estate, retail and healthcare and owns the NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bought United for £790 million in 2005.
The six heirs of American businessman Malcolm Glazer, who died in 2014, together own 96 percent of Manchester United’s voting stock.
The structure of the deal proposed by Ratcliffe would allow members of the Glazer family, as well as other shareholders, to remove some of the shares, the source said.
Ratcliffe is offering to handle recruitment and talent management at Manchester United if his bid is successful, the source said.
Some of the club’s fans have criticized the Glazers over the years for the way they handled key aspects of Manchester United’s operations.
Ratcliffe founded Ineos in 1998 and is chairman and chief executive of the chemical company group, with a two-thirds stake. Forbes estimates Ratcliffe’s net worth at US$18.7 billion.
The British billionaire is no stranger to business in sports. Ineos owns French Ligue 1 club Nice, Swiss Super League club FC Lausanne-Sport and partners with partner club Racing Club Abidjan in Ligue 1 Ivory Coast. It also sponsors the Grenadiers, one of the most successful cycling teams in the world.