Hello and welcome to my weekly exclusive column for CaughtOffside – click here to subscribe for more from Fabrizio Romano, Christian Falk and Jonathan Johnson!
The Manchester United sale process is slowly progressing even though at the time of writing (Tuesday morning) there is no preferred bidder.
Raine Group, who are handling the sale, are now talking to both Sir Jim Ratcliffe and representatives from Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation. There are a lot of games taking place, which is normal at this stage, especially for a transaction of this magnitude.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is “cautiously optimistic” his offer for ‘control’ will succeed. But as of last week, he was not informed he was the preferred bidder. It’s a flexible bid that allows Joel and Avram to stay at the club but without their Class B voting power.
INEOS’ talks with Raine, at least as of Monday night, can’t be construed as a negotiation. INEOS were simply asked some technical questions on their final offer.
Sheikh Jassim hasn’t given up. There is confusion over the Nine Two Foundation’s offer and whether it is lower than anticipated because it’s inclusive of pledged investment. Sources close to the group are adamant it is “competitive”, though, maintaining around £0.8bn is on top of a club valuation of around £5bn.
Sheikh Jassim, via intermediaries, is expected to hold further talks this week, described by sources as in-depth. There is no guarantee his offer will be raised, but the feeling is it will need to be in order to stand a chance of succeeding.
Reports a bid has already been improved to £6bn are wide of the mark to my understanding. The official deadlines are gone and talks are more fluid now. So any bid would likely not be disclosed and be tabled in a less formal manner.
I am also told Avram Glazer being seen at Claridges, owned by Sheikh Jassim’s father Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani (known as HBJ) is a red herring and not a clue.
The bottom line is both groups are still in the process and that perhaps suggests neither have met the Glazers desired valuation, or both suitors are necessary to drive up competitive tension. The advantage to the seller of no exclusive period to date is even with a preferred bidder (whether named or not) there is always another rival to play them off against. And let’s not forget strategic or minority investors are still waiting in the wings.
So don’t be surprised if we kind of skip a step. Raine have smartly ensured the…