Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s new bid for Man Utd CONFIRMED after deadline chaos as mystery Finnish magnate also enters fray
SIR Jim Ratcliffe made his formal pitch to take control of Manchester United – 24 hours BEFORE the new bidding deadline expired.
Ratcliffe and Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani remain the leading contenders with both due to confirm world record £5bn-plus second bids for Manchester United.
But they face the growing threat that the club could still remain in the hands of the Glazer family – after US hedge fund Elliott Management made an offer to take a minority stake that will allow the owners to STAY in charge.
Sir Jim, Britain’s richest man, made his move on Thursday afternoon, a full day ahead of the extended bid deadline.
A spokesman said: “Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos can confirm we have submitted a revised bid.”
The move, a signal of Sir Jim’s desire to land the club he has followed since his schooldays, comes after a farcical situation on Wednesday night in which the Glazers’ approved deal-makers the Raine Group gave a last-minute extension to the previous 9pm bidding deadline.
It was a move that left Sheikh Jassim and Ineos group, initially scrambling to work out their next move.
With Raine confirming tomorrow’s deadline, revised and fine-tuned offers will have been made by both parties by Friday afternoon, exceeding the previous record for a sporting franchise when the NFL’s Denver Broncos went for £3.8bn last summer.
There are, however, increasing fears that the entire drawn-out sales process could end up NOT happening – in what would be a U-turn that would leave many Old Trafford fans aghast.
Those concerns – adding to questions over whether the two main bidders are being “played” by Raine – were consolidated by the news of the Elliott proposition.
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Elliott, formerly the owners of AC Milan, confirmed they have made an offer for a “small amount of common equity” in addition to being willing to provide financing for other bidders.
While the New York-based firm would not disclose the size of the shareholding they are looking to purchase, nor the sum involved, it would allow a partial withdrawal of the members of the Glazer family who are looking to cash in their stakes.
The cash injection would also enable the club’s co-chairmen, Joel and Avram Glazer, to remain at the helm.
As Sun Sport revealed, one option being considered by the two siblings was using external funding to create a new company and hive off the club’s merchandising and digital commercial operation into a separate concern.
Growing frustration at the process from some of those involved boiled over in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s chaos with a belief that the Glazers might, after all, only be interested in pushing up the price of the club to create leverage for a loan.
Amid the uncertainty, shares in United on the New York Stock Exchange plunged by more than eight per cent in early trading, wiping £268m off the club’s market capitalisation, which dropped to £3.12bn.
The situation was further confused when Finnish social media magnate Thomas Zilliacus, taking a major pop at Sheikh Jassim, announced he had approached Raine with another offer.
Zilliacus, a Singapore-based businessman who was previously President of HJK Helsinki and a politician in the Finnish capital city, promised a “fan-centred” bid – while asking United supporters to stump up HALF of the cost.
He said: “Any sports club ultimately should belong to its fans.
“The current development, where billionaire sheikhs and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend.”
Zilliacus, though, hinted he would bid at the NYSE valuation, which is barely half the figure that the Glazers want, and suggesting he would only front up 50 per cent of that through his investment vehicle, with fans urged to meet him.
That is not a figure likely to move the dial with the Glazers, who are determined to hold out for the full £6bn – and whose conduct had led to questions over whether the family have ever been serious about relinquishing control of the club.
The alternative view is that Raine are encouraging such a view to spiral in the hope that it will force one of the bidders – probably Sheikh Jassim – to break the bank and make an offer the Glazers cannot refuse.
What still seems evident is that despite rumours of up to eight bids and suggestions of a mystery third consortium, Ineos and Sheikh Jassim are the only contenders who want to take control of the club.
Ineos are targeting the Glazers’ 69 per cent stake while the Qatari aims for a full buy-out.
The other interested parties, including Elliott, are looking at stock investments or funding options.