Manchester United’s majority shareholders the Glazer family are caught in a catch-22 situation as they deliberate on whether to sell their controlling stake in the club.
Having reached the end of their credit facilities, the family have employed consultancy firm the Raine Group to invite bids for a total or partial sale of the club.
The family are said to want between $5.5 and $6 billion for the outright sale of United. This figure is reported to be well in excess of its book value.
However, news of their intention to sell and the team’s success on the pitch under Erik ten Hag sent the share price soaring, increasing the genuine value of the enterprise.
Rumours have been circulating that secretly, at least two of the Glazer siblings, Joel and Avram, have never intended to sell and have used the bidding process as a fishing expedition to attract investors to buy out their siblings and retain controlling interest in the club.
This option seemed to take a massive step forward this week when Elliott Investment Management threw their hat in the ring, offering to finance someone else’s investment in the club – including the Glazers themselves.
However, unfortunately for the Glazers, reports that they could have a way of keeping control has caused the share price to plummet again.
According to The Mirror, “As bids came in for the club, United’s share price hit a 52-week high of US$27.03. When the markets opened on Tuesday, the price stood at $24.94, but it fell to close the day on $23.13 – the lowest it has been in close to two weeks.”
The American tycoons are therefore caught in a cleft stick.
Only two outright sale bids are known to have been lodged, one from a Qatari investor, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Jaber Al Thani, and the other from petrochemical giant, INEOS, headed by Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Sheikh Jassim’s bid is said to be $4.5 billion and Ratcliffe’s $4 billion.
If the Glazers are making noises about staying in control in order to drive the price up, it is having the opposite effect as the market loses confidence the minute it thinks they will stay at the helm.
And if the family are not bluffing, as soon as they make public their decision to stay, they know that millions will be wiped off the value of the club.
For United fans desperate to rid the club at any cost of the owners they see as parasites, the market’s reaction to the prospect of them staying is very welcome and puts huge pressure on the family to finally milk their cash cow one last time and get the h-ll out of Dodge City.