Home » Qatari investors will increase offer for Man United if needs be

Qatari investors will increase offer for Man United if needs be

by Derick Kinoti

Qatari investors led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani will go higher than their current £4.5b if the need arises.

Last Friday, Al Thani confirmed in a statement that he had tabled his proposal to complete a full takeover of Manchester United.

Al Thani made a host of promises including stadium redevelopment and the injection of funds to improve the men’s team, women’s team and youth apparatus.

Various reports have suggested that the Glazers want top dollar for United and it’s highly likely that they will demand more than the £4.5 billion put forward by the Qatari investors.

According to The Athletic, this will not be a problem for Al Thani, who is willing to front a higher figure to emerge successful ahead of Sir Jim Ratcliffe in the race to take over the reins at Old Trafford.

“The PR people he has appointed are not saying how much he has bid for the club but the consensus is that it is in the region of £4.5billion ($5.4bn) and he can go higher if need be.”

“He is proposing to buy out the majority owners, the Glazer family, as well as the publicly-listed company’s minority shareholders. He will do this with cash, clearing the club’s debts, and he will then spend whatever it takes to return United to the top of European football, rebuilding the stadium and training ground in the process, as well as investing in the wider area in a similar fashion to Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi-backed owners in east Manchester.”

“Sheikh Jassim will not forget the women’s team, either. It is a popular bid.”

The Athletic delved into Sheikh Jassim’s wealth and how he’s connected to the royal family and the state.

Sheikh Jassim’s wealth is largely drawn from his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, popularly known by his initials, HBJ. HBJ served as Foreign secretary between 1992 and 2013 before serving as Prime Minister between 2007 and 2013. He was also the deputy head of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

It was under HBJ that Qatar made significant investments in London including Canary Wharf, Harrods, (London’s) Olympic Village and the Shard. When in government, HBJ served as the former Emir’s right-hand man and amassed a wealth of billions of pounds that made him extremely wealthy.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s abdication from the throne in 2013 saw the new leader bring in his own people, which made HBJ resign from his administrative posts.

Sheikh Jassim’s personal wealth is deeply connected to his father’s in a country where there is a heavy emphasis on close allies and family ties. Sheikh Jassim sits on various boards on behalf of his father, most notably QIB, the largest shareholder of which was QIA, the sovereign wealth fund.

The Athletic spoke to an expert on the country’s regional and financial matters who said, “The dividing line between state money and private money in Qatar is so very thin. I cannot see how this bid for United has not been sanctioned by the very top — I can’t see how it’s anything other than a state bid.”

Another Gulf expert, Gerd Nonneman, a professor of international relations and Gulf studies at Georgetown University in Qatar, offered a divergent opinion.

Nonneman told The Athletic, “I wouldn’t necessarily see this as a ‘Qatari’ bid. Sheikh Jassim doesn’t hold any government positions, nor, indeed, has his father done for many years. Much of the son’s fortune is based on his father’s wealth, which is thought to run into the billions, further enhanced by his own involvement in QIB and other business ventures.”

Nonneman adds, “So, contrary to the investments in Bayern Munich (a Qatar Airways sponsorship deal) or PSG, which were done by entities that were largely funded by the state and/or very senior members of the ruling family, this case is different.”

Nonneman opines that apart from HBJ, who may have a stake in Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two investment foundation, it’s impossible to decipher whether there’s any controlling stake by any government entity of any of the actual ruling group.

Another Athletic source from Qatar who spoke to the outlet on condition of anonymity disclosed: “Co-ownership and multi-clubs have polluted European football. Who knows who owns what clubs these days? Red Bull, the nonsense over (the Public Investment Fund) and Newcastle United, it’s all been signed off. It’s everywhere and Qatar is the last to the party.”

Matt Slater adds that Sheikh Jassim is trying very hard to prove the concept of separation between his Nine Two investment vehicle and the Qatar sovereign wealth fund that owns PSG.

Ratcliffe also has the same problem brought about by his ownership of OGC Nice. However, unlike Sheikh Jassim, Ratcliffe is not especially concerned about this conflict of interest.

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