The Qatari-backed bid for have not given up on their hopes of buying the club despite having been picked as the Glazer family’s preferred bidder.
After three rounds of bidding and a sale process that has taken three months, Ratcliffe and his Ineos company have – though it will not be a full takeover at this stage.
Two of the Glazer siblings, Joel and Avram, will retain a 20 per cent stake in the club as part of Ratcliffe’s proposal and that is believed to have been a deal-clincher.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani’s bid was actually worth more in straight cash – around £5billion – but it was for a full takeover, with Ratcliffe’s offer for a majority stake actually valuing the club at closer to £6bn.
An official announcement confirming Ratcliffe as the preferred bidder is expected to come within days, at which point the final details of the sale can be discussed and due diligence completed.
However, according to , Sheikh Jassim and his Qatari backers are not prepared to simply accept defeat and could respond with an 11th-hour improved offer to tempt the Glazers to reconsider.
Any fresh offer would need to get closer to the £6bn benchmark established by Ratcliffe and Ineos, while it remains to be seen if Joel and Avram are prepared to give up their stakes.
Unlike their four siblings, the two brothers – who are most actively involved with the club at present – are wary of selling up and prefer the offer from Ratcliffe rather than a full buyout.
are also reporting that the Qatari party believe they are still ‘firmly in the game’ and remain in talks over a takeover, with further manoeuvring still permitted despite the deadline for final bids having passed.
Interestingly, Raine Group also oversaw the sale of Chelsea last year and, although Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital won the auction, there was another preferred bidder picked prior to the American-led bid winning the contest.
Clearly there is still room for the Qatari bid to increase their offer and force a rethink from the Glazers – though the £1bn gap in valuations could be a massive hurdle.
Sheikh Jassim’s bid has been further hampered by the collapse of Credit Suisse in March, which is believed to have cost Qatar’s Investment Authority – the failed Swiss bank’s second biggest shareholder – billions.
Ratcliffe, meanwhile, is likely to seek to gain full control of United within three years, but the current structuring of the takeover will allow for greater up-front spending on transfers and upgrading both Old Trafford and the Carrington training ground.
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