Man Utd takeover exclusive: Sheikh Jassim sends in big hitters as he means business in fight to buy United
Trusted reporter Ben Jacobs has given us an update on the proposed takeover of Manchester United and has explained why Sheikh Jassim ‘means business’ in his approach for the club.
Thursday marks a landmark day in the United sale process as representatives of Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani visit the club’s facilities and Old Trafford.
The Qatari banker is thought to be the frontrunner to take over control of the club from the Glazer family, who put the Red Devils up for sale last November.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also in the mix, having also submitted a bid ahead of February’s initial deadline.
And while there remains some uncertainty about whether the Glazers will actually sanction a full sale of United or pursue external investment, the deadline for revised offers is approaching fast.
So, with that in mind, we asked our main in the know, Ben Jacobs, how things are currently progressing.
Jacobs told us: “Manchester United are holding what’s been termed second-stage meetings. It’s a mixture of presentations and Q and A. And it’s very significant to the groups put forward because they are going to have to take the data that has been sent to them, and factor in these presentations, and then make a second bid which is more concrete before the end of the month.
“At which point, both Raine Group, who are handling the sale, and the Glazers will determine whether or not an offer appeals to them. And if it does, they’ll put through a preferred bidder potentially into a period of exclusivity. And then suddenly, we’ll see the Glazers’ hand and whether a full sale is possible or they want to remain at the club and explore minority investment.
“And if the offers do not meet their valuation, another step could be implemented into the process. And maybe more than one group would get put through in a non-exclusive period.
“But in an ideal world, we will jump from second-stage groups to a preferred bidder, which would allow a sale or minority investor to complete the process between now and towards the end or at the end of the season.
“So today, Sheikh Jassim’s group are in Manchester and they’re receiving a tour of the facilities as well as a series of top-level presentations that allow them to see where there is extra value at the club.”
Sheikh Jassim representatives going down well
And while Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s group are yet to take their own tour of the club, it appears that Jassim’s group have already made an impression.
Indeed, Jacobs added: “After the tour, there will then be a Q&A and meetings are taking place all day. And I understand that the delegation from the Nine Two Foundation, which has shaped Jassim’s group, has been warmly received.
“Sources say that talks have been constructive and will continue throughout the day. Sheikh Jassim is not present. But leading the delegation is Shahzad Shabazz, who is the president of the Nine Two Foundation, and an extremely serious player across international banking, investments and capital markets.
“He actually spent 25 years at the Bank of America. And then there is also Yasir Shah, who is the MD of the Bank of America. And he’s one of the key figures in establishing what is fair market valuation for Manchester United.
“And the other name worth mentioning, amongst the group, which includes lawyers, and also experts in real estate and property valuation, is Fady Bakhos, because he is, broadly speaking a personal advisor on investments to Sheikh Jassim and as a consequence, his opinion and what he relays is going to be very significant as well.
“So there’s still some way to go in this process, because Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s meetings will take place on Friday and there are other groups involved as well in terms of outright bids and minority investors.
“But what we can read into today, is that Sheikh Jassim means business because he sent some real significant heavyweights to Manchester to try and move things along in the most positive way possible.”
United are back in action on Sunday when they host Fulham in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
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