Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim is the only bidder offering to buy 100 percent of the club and a debt-free takeover but British businessman Ratcliffe may have made a higher bid.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group is believed to have made a higher bid than Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim’s offer, bringing Ratcliffe one step closer to gaining control of Manchester United, BBC Sports reported on Saturday.
The deadline for third and final bids to buy the club closed on Friday night more than five months after the process began.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has offered about £5billion to purchase 100% ownership of the club, while Ratcliffe is only seeking a controlling stake.
Although Ratcliffe’s initial intention was to acquire the Glazer family’s 69% stake, recent reports suggest he may reduce that figure to allow co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer to retain some link to the club. However, Ratcliffe’s ownership will not drop below 51%.
It is common for bidders looking to secure a smaller stake to pay a higher percentage figure than a purchaser looking to buy the entire entity. Investment funds bidding for a minority stake were not given the same deadline as those aiming to buy the club.
The Glazers announced in November the board had “authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives”, including selling the club.
Three American investment firms – Elliott Management, the Carlyle Group and Ares Management – are also offering to buy a minority stake, but Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim are the two main parties competing to take control of the club.
Sheikh Jassim’s offer includes a figure that would go directly to the sellers, along with a plan to make a significant amount of additional capital and infrastructure investment into the club.
If the bid is successful, Sheikh Jassim would become the owner of one of the most valuable football clubs and the fourth richest in the world, according to an analysis by Deloitte. The club has a global fan base of over 650 million people and generates significant revenue from merchandise sales, sponsorships, and television rights.
It has won 20 English Premier League titles, 12 FA Cups, and three European Cups, making it one of history’s most successful soccer clubs.