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SBD Global/August 7, 2017/Franchises

Unnamed Chinese Investor Reportedly Attempting To Buy A Stake In ManU

A "mystery Chinese investor is attempting to buy a stake" in ManU, amid mounting rumors of "a split in the Glazer family over ownership of the club," according to Dunkley & Dey of the SUNDAY TIMES. Intermediaries "claiming to act for an unnamed Chinese billionaire have made approaches to some of the club’s biggest independent shareholders" to gauge their interest in selling. The talks "have not yet resulted in formal discussions to sell a block of shares," sources said, but a "confluence of forces suggests it is only a matter of time before a sizeable stake changes hands." The Glazer family owns about 80% of the economic interests in the club. The six children of the late Malcolm Glazer, who bought the club for £790M in '05, "hold opposing views on whether to sell shares in the club, however." Sources close to the family said that there was "no prospect of the club being sold in its entirety." ManU "is considered a trophy asset by Joel and Avram Glazer," who serve as co-chairs. Their brother Bryan "is also said to be keen to keep his stake." But Edward, Kevin and Darcie Glazer "are said to be interested in selling down." One source said that about 8% of the club "was being offered for sale last week by an American broker." The "underlying owner of the stake was unclear." Although Beijing "has imposed strict controls on the flow of capital leaving the country, dampening expectations of further large-scale investments," China experts said that "many of the country's top entrepreneurs have enough cash stashed internationally to continue doing deals" (SUNDAY TIMES, 8/6).

SIBLING RIVALRIES?: Dunkley & Dey also reported after "a spate of football club takeovers" fueled by the Premier League’s TV rights deals, "insiders say the time may be right for the Glazers to cash in." The Glazer siblings received a £15M dividend last year and "are expected to rake in" another £18M ($23.5M) this year. They "exercise control" over ManU through Red Football, a holding company that owns about 57% of the club. The siblings "retain an iron grip over the club through a share structure that gives them near total control of voting rights." ManU's public shareholders hold "class A" shares, which have "only one tenth of the voting rights" of the Glazers' "class B" stock. Investors "complain this is too heavily skewed" in the Americans’ favor. The Glazers "are approaching an impasse with their City and Wall Street investors," according to one senior figure at a Premier League rival. The EPL club exec said, "Many bought into the listing when United had a brilliant manager who kept them at the top. He left, then the chief executive David Gill left, and there was a void. Now they have been left with these shares with no rights" (SUNDAY TIMES, 8/6).
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