LGBTQ+ activist concerned by potential Qatari takeover of Man Utd
Manchester United takeover bidder Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has seen his efforts to line up another takeover deal backfire after enquiring about buying control of Champions League finalists Inter Milan. Reports suggested the Qatari billionaire had been in discussions to weigh up the possibility of purchasing another club, as doubts have emerged over whether the Glazer family will accept his £5billion proposal to acquire the club.
If he loses out in the battle with Sir Jim Ratcliffe to take control of the Premier League, Sheikh Jassim is said to be keen on buying Inter, who lost 1-0 in the Champions League final to Manchester City and qualified for this season’s competition by finishing third in Serie A.
A report from Italian outlet Tuttomercatoweb says that Sheikh Jassim’s bid for United has taken ‘a step backwards’. The Glazers are ‘closer than ever’ to accepting Ratcliffe’s bid for a 25 per cent minority stake, and that has forced the Qatari banker to consider alternative clubs as a contingency choice – with financially-troubled Inter one of his options.
As president of the Qatar Islamic Bank and a number of other significant transport companies, Sheikh Jassim’s interest is said to have coincided with Inter’s search for new investment. They are currently looking for a new sponsor, and with Qatar Airways in line to agree a lucrative shirt sponsorship deal worth £1million, it may suit him to take over to smooth over relations.
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However, the potential deal has hit a snag after it emerged Inter president Steven Zhang, president of Chinese firm Suning, wants to sell the club for £1.2billion. Sheikh Jassim reportedly ‘baulked’ at the asking price for Inter, who were sold for only £230m (£270m) back in 2016.
Ironically, the Raine Group – the US finance firm handling United’s sale – are said to be helping the club find potential buyers for Zhang. The Chinese businessman is under pressure to raise capital to repay a loan to US hedge fund Oaktree next year, but the chances of him selling to Sheikh Jassim are dead in the water unless the price is reduced.
While the deal is described as being far from being advanced and merely explorative, it offers a fresh insight into Sheikh Jassim’s perception of his chances of taking control of United.
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The Glazers are continuing to allow the process to drag on despite fan unrest and protests, while investors are also becoming frustrated with the lack of progress made since their announcement in November 2022 that they would welcome proposals for investment and bids to buy them out.
It is widely believed that they will now decide against selling their controlling stake after receiving offers upwards of £5bn. And that is why Ratcliffe’s offer for 25 per cent appeals, because the INEOS CEO will be able to provide a cash injection without having the final say on decisions in Manchester.
The American family have been at the helm at Old Trafford since 2005 when Malcolm Glazer completed his leveraged £780m deal. Now the club is predominantly run by his two sons, Avram and Joel, they are looking to earn a significant profit while alleviating the club of its huge debts.
But Ratcliffe’s offer could allow them to stay at the top for a little while longer as they hope for a bigger slice of the pie.
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