The Glazer family is in talks with British chemicals magnate Sir Jim Ratcliffe about potential investments. A top shareholder of Manchester United said that he had no idea what the future held for the Premier League football team.
Nick Train described the negotiations over a possible deal as “extraordinarily complex and long”. This is almost a year after the Glazers announced they were considering a new investment, a club sale or other transactions.
When interviewed by Money Clinic, one of the UK’s most well-known fund managers admitted that he is “not a Man United Fan”, but he said he has high hopes for an agreement that will boost prospects for investors of his two flagship UK equity mutual funds, which underperformed the UK market over the past few years.
People with knowledge of the situation say Ratcliffe and Ineos, his chemicals group, are close to a deal that would give them roughly 25% of United. In that scenario, the Glazers would retain majority ownership.
Ratcliffe’s deal is set to value United between $6bn and $6.5bn including debt. Ratcliffe’s deal would enable the Glazers to liquidate their stakes, and Ratcliffe could inject new funds into United.
Train, cofounder of the fund group Lindsell Train said: “I have to assume we are closer to an announcement or a crystallisation in value. But who knows exactly when it will happen or what form it will take?” “I have no way of knowing whether they’re true or not,” said Train, co-founder of fund group Lindsell Train.
It is not guaranteed that the deal will be completed. Last month, Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al-Thani withdrawn from the bid.
This deal will test investor interest in sports, as institutional capital drives up valuations. US investors Clearlake Capital, Todd Boehly and Todd Boehly purchased Premier League club Chelsea FC last year for £2.5bn. This is still the highest price paid for a soccer club. Josh Harris, a private equity titan in the US led the $6bn purchase of the Washington Commanders NFL team this year.
United’s dual class share structure added complexity to negotiations, and posed risks for minority investors like Lindsell Train. Ratcliffe revised his proposal in response to board concerns over an earlier version that would have involved buying shares from only the Glazers and not minority shareholders.
The Glazers are in control of the company because they own supervoting B-shares, which don’t trade on the market. Lindsell Train has more than 20% of the A-shares but less than 1% of the total voting rights.
If the rumours were true. . . Train stated that the asset was worth more than £5bn. It would be great if the value of our shares, which we hold on behalf of our investors, was reflected in their accounts.
Manchester United refused to comment. In February, its shares reached a record high of $27.34 as the expectations of a Qatari acquisition soared.
Train is not a fan of every sport-related industry. He warned against the increase in betting. Money Clinic’s Train said that more people should bet on stocks than on football matches.
He said that investing in Diageo is more secure than knowing the number of football corners. He also stressed the importance of educating young people on the benefits of long-term investments.
Train also defended his two flagship UK equity fund, Lindsell Train UK Equity, and Finsbury Growth & Income Trust. He urged investors to be patient, and noted the increasing number of US investors, such as Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway, who are taking position in unloved FTSE 100 firms.