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Volume 7 No. 149

Finance

ManU "is the target for investment from Saudi Arabia and a potential takeover," according to Dan King of THE SUN. Sources said that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman -- whose family is worth around £850B ($1.11T) -- wants to "take on Middle East rivals like the Abu Dhabi-based owners" of Man City. The sources added that he is "ready to sanction a bid by an individual or a move backed by the money of the oil-rich state to take a stake" in ManU "or, ideally, to buy the club outright." Even if ManU's owner, the Glazer family, was "willing to consider selling," it would cost the Saudis more than £3B ($3.95B). It is believed the Saudis "have the money" and the "desire to make a big splash in football." Buying into ManU would be a "massive statement in the wider financial and political battles being fought between the Gulf states." The Glazers' willingness to sell "all or part of the club" they have owned since '05 "is unclear." It "has been noted" that ManU co-Chair Avram Glazer "has been spending significant amounts of time in Saudi Arabia recently." The club already has a "strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority to help develop football there" as part of the Crown Prince’s 2030 Vision project to "change the country" (THE SUN, 10/15).

SHARES SOAR: SKY NEWS reported shares in ManU "rose more than 5%" in U.S. trading amid reports of the potential takeover. The structure of the club's '12 listing "gave little away in terms of voting rights," so any Saudi-led approach "would have to be done through the Glazers and their representatives directly." The Glazer family has yet to comment (SKY NEWS, 10/15).

Billionaire Len Blavatnik is "plotting to split his sports media empire in two" and sell half of it to help finance his costly attempt to create the "Netflix of sport," according to Christopher Williams of the London TELEGRAPH. Perform Group, which owns live streaming service DAZN and a collection of sports rights, production and data businesses, is reportedly "working with bankers from UBS on the plans." Blavatnik, a British and American citizen who was born in Ukraine, "has pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into DAZN." It is "rapidly consuming cash" as it buys rights to football, such as the J.League and other sports around the world. London-based Perform announced a fortnight ago that it would reorganize itself to "separate DAZN and consumer websites such as Goal.com from its wholesale operations," which include video feeds for gambling operators and Opta, the data service used by football coaches to track player performance. The company will be renamed DAZN Group, with the wholesale business held under an independent governance structure as Perform Content. This unit is "due to be spun off" in a sale to new owners. A source said, "The money raised will help fund the growth of DAZN" (TELEGRAPH, 10/14).