Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has made a dramatic fourth bid for Manchester United, with an improved offer of no more than £5.5bn which includes the clearance of the £1bn debt and a fund solely for the club and surrounding community.
More than two weeks have passed since Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the Ineos owner, each submitted what were supposedly final bids for United. The Qatari banker’s offer then was close to £5bn for 100%, while Ratcliffe’s was thought to be for a stake of a little over 50%, leaving Avram and Joel Glazer, two of the siblings who collectively own a majority share, with a 20% stake.
But the Guardian understands that Sheikh Jassim’s intent on becoming United’s next owner moved him to increase his price by around £500m while clearing the debt and creating a fund solely for the club and surrounding community as he seeks to become the Glazers’ preferred bidder. The family originally valued the club at £6bn after it went on the market.
Whether Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest people and also owns French club Nice, will respond is unclear. However, a third option may be that one or more of the Glazers retain their stake and take investment into the club, with the US firms Elliott Investment Management and the Carlyle Group interested in doing so.
The Raine Group is orchestrating the sale for the Glazers.