Ratcliffe’s offer to six Glazer siblings allows them to retain their Manchester United stakes

Billionaire wants to buy enough B shares in order to control club over a period of years. The six Glazer siblings could retain stakes in Manchester United in a proposed phased takeover of the football club by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is seeking a way through the share structure and family dynamics that have complicated the deal.

The Glazer family began a strategic review over six months ago, but it has taken a long time and only two takeover bids have emerged for one of sports biggest names.

People close to the negotiations say that Ratcliffe’s offer and his Ineos chemical empire is complex because he does not want to buy United’s entire shareholding in one go. This is unlike a competing bid from a Qatari bidder.

United is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but thanks to special B shares, the Glazers have 95 percent of the voting power. The A shares that are publicly traded, and which are mostly held by minorities, have little voting power.

Ratcliffe flew to New York last month for talks and is now seeking to buy at least enough B-shares to give him control of the club. This offer is not expected be extended to other shareholders.

Some people involved in the process, and those who have links to the club, had expected that United cochairs Joel Glazer and Avram Glaser would want a deal which allowed them to extend their stay and keep their shares, while their four siblings – Bryan, Darcie Edward and Kevin – were to leave the club in full.

Many people have said that the process announced in November has been complicated because of the lack cohesion between the six siblings. The Glazers also received offers from several investment groups that offered to inject funds into the club, without changing control.

Two people familiar with the situation said that the Glazers are now working on a plan to allow Ratcliffe to control the company by allowing the six siblings sell their shares in proportion to the size of their respective holdings.

Ratcliffe and Ineos will buy the remaining Glazers shares through derivatives contracts in the next few years.

Ratcliffe can invest less money up front and still gain majority control of the club.

One of the people said, “The penny is starting to fall.” “There is no obligation to make an offering for all shareholders.”

Since mid-February, when United’s shares peaked at $27, uncertainty surrounding a possible deal has caused the stock to decline. United’s equity, valued at $3bn at its current share value of $18.63 is currently priced at $18.63.

The United Stock Exchange filings state that the Glazers’ class B shares will “automatically” and “immediately” be converted to class A shares upon transfer.

Two people involved in the process have said that the Glazers could vote for changes to allow Ratcliffe to keep the B shares without converting them into A shares.

Ineos has been flexible in its structuring, to improve their chances of winning the Glazers. In a bid that is expected to be worth more than £5bn (6.25bn), including all debts. The people said that no deal was guaranteed, and that the structure might change.

A deal is not expected to be made soon, despite the growing frustration among fans over the ownership of their club. United’s performance has improved on the field, and its last match of the season took place on Saturday at Wembley in the FA Cup Final against Manchester City.

The club already won the League Cup, and it finished third in the Premier League. This means that the club is qualified to compete in the lucrative Uefa Champions League in next season.

United supporters have been protesting against the Glazers since 2005, when they took control of the club through a £790mn levered buyout. The fans also complain that United’s Old Trafford Stadium is behind its rivals, while the Glazers are taking dividends from the club.

Fans were furious about the role of American owners in the failed attempt two years ago to create a European Super League.

United’s board of directors met last week to receive updates on various offers made in the process led by US merchant banking Raine.

A person who was present at the meeting stated that Ratcliffe appeared to be more serious than the other bidders, but there were still a few issues to resolve.

Ineos United and Raine have declined to comment.

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