American billionaire Leon Cooperman has bought close to one million shares in Manchester United as Sir Jim Ratcliffe also prepares to take a much larger, albeit still minority, stake.
The Glazer family announced last November their intention to consider ‘strategic alternatives’ for United, the club they have now owned in controversial circumstances for the past 18 years.
Those alternatives have included all manner of possible investment, from a full takeover to minority deals. Both Ratcliffe and former bidding rival Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani had hoped to become new owners of the Old Trafford club.
But with the Glazer family pricing United at in excess of £6bn and perhaps up to £10bn, Sheikh Jassim’s best offer of £5bn fell short, with the current owners also wary of selling under value. The Qatari banker withdrew from the takeover race last month as a result.
Ratcliffe’s offer to purchase a 25% stake actually valued the club higher overall, while allowing the Glazers to remain majority owners for at least the time being.
He has been prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed with a bid, even if that means starting out slightly smaller, with his long-term plan still to become majority owner.
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Cooperman’s purchase of shares doesn’t change anything with regard to the bigger picture at Old Trafford. The 80-year-old, who founded New York-based investment firm Omega Advisors, has a net worth of $2.6bn (£2.1bn),, as estimated by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
A recent filing shows that the United shares he has bought are valued at $16.8m (£13.5m), which is only a tiny percentage when compared with the numbers Ratcliffe and the Glazers are talking about.
The current owners cutting off slices of the pie in this manner is nothing new. Co-chairman Avram Glazer sold off more than £70m worth of his personal ‘Class A Ordinary Shares’ in 2021 at a time when the club’s overall value on the stock market was just under £2.4bn.
Ratcliffe’s buy-in is set to see him take a hands-on role, particularly where it comes to sporting operations. The Oldham-born businessman will sit on a three-person panel at the top of the club alongside current co-chairman Joel Glazer and long-term trusted aide Sir Dave Brailsford, who made his name in cycling but has been Ratcliffe’s director of sport at INEOS since 2021.
Below them will be the chief executive, Richard Arnold, running the day to day business side, and a new sporting director expected to be renowned talent scout and recruiter Paul Mitchell.
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