Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, a son of Qatar’s former prime minister, has launched a bid to buy the United Kingdom’s Premier League club Manchester United, whose United States-based owners launched a formal sale process late last year.
A deal for United is expected to shatter records for the sale of a sport business. The club’s current majority owners, the Glazer family, are seeking a valuation as high as 7 billion pounds ($8.42bn), the Reuters news agency has previously reported.
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The record 20-time English champions have more than 650 million fans worldwide, according to market research firm Kantar.
“The bid will be completely debt free via Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation, which will look to invest in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure,” said a statement on Friday from a spokesperson representing Sheikh Jassim, who is the chairman of QIB, one of the top banks in Qatar.
Potential buyers had been asked to submit a bid amount and proof of funds after which Raine Group, the investment bank running the sale process, will draw up a shortlist.
The Qatari bid is one of the multiple offers United have already received, according to sources. The initial deadline for bids expired on Friday.
UK billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, a lifelong United fan and founder of chemicals firm INEOS, is another likely bidder, along with US private equity firms, sources have told Reuters.
Ratcliffe has previously openly expressed his interest in buying the Old Trafford club.
On Thursday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Saudi Arabia has also submitted a bid for United.
A deal for Manchester United will likely exceed the biggest sport deal so far, which was the $5.2bn – including debt and investments – paid for their London-based Premier League rivals Chelsea, sources told Reuters previously.
United are the fourth-richest football club in the world, according to analysis by Deloitte. They are widely seen as one of the most prized assets in all of sport.
The Glazers bought United for 790 million pounds ($951m) in 2005 as part of a highly-leveraged deal. The club has said it expects to generate up to 610 million pounds ($734m) of revenues in its 2023 fiscal year and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of up to 140 million pounds ($168m).
United’s Premier League rivals Liverpool have also said they are exploring a sale, while Tottenham Hotspur are expected to receive a bid worth $3.75bn from Iranian-American billionaire Jahm Najafi, Reuters has reported.