Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has made a last-ditch attempt to win the battle for Manchester United, making another bid and threatening to pull out of a bidding war that has dragged on this week, according to people familiar with the matter.
Jassim and his Doha-based Nine Two Foundation have submitted an improved offer to the Premier League club, one of the people said, to make British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe one of the sport’s most valuable assets.
The bid will be Jassim’s last bid, and after this Friday he will “not be involved in the process any more,” the person added. The son of the former Qatari prime minister, Jassim, is trying to buy 100 percent of the New York-listed club, while Ratcliffe only wants to gain majority control.
More than five months since the Glazer family announced they were considering selling Manchester United, they are yet to confirm their plans for the club, despite receiving several offers from Jassim and Ratcliffe.
Jassim’s latest offer represented a “huge premium” to United’s share price, the person said, declining to give a price. United shares closed at $18.41 in New York on Tuesday, valuing the club’s equity at around $3 billion.
The FT previously reported that Jassim, who kept a low profile throughout the bidding process, made a third-round bid that valued the club at around £5bn.
The FT revealed last week that the six Glazer brothers who run the club are considering selling their shares in proportion to their ownership, paving the way for Ratcliffe to take over. The billionaire can then acquire their remaining shares in the framework of a gradual buyout in the following years.
Jassim has threatened to pull out of the process by the end of the week as pressure mounts on the Glazers to make a decision. United’s future remains uncertain as the transfer window opens to sign new players in less than a week.
Manchester United finished third in the Premier League this season and qualified for the UEFA Champions League after missing a year in Europe’s lucrative club competition.
United fans have long railed against the Glazers, who bought the club in a £790m leveraged buyout in 2005, for loading up on debt and collecting dividends.
During their ownership, rival clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur built new, more modern grounds than United’s Old Trafford stadium.
Ratcliffe’s attempt at a deal has been hampered by United’s dual-class share structure, which would require the billionaire to acquire the B shares currently held by the Glazers, which carry extra voting rights.