Qatar royals linked to fresh £1.5bn Man Utd buyout

Qatar’s royal family is preparing to offer about £1.5bn in a takeover bid for Manchester United.

A delegation from the Qatari royal family, headed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, were in Manchester to try to complete the transaction.

The news was welcomed by Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of Manchester United Supporters Trust, who told the paper that fans would support an owner that introduced a more sustainable business model to the club.

“We would like any potential new owner of Manchester United to use the club’s own revenues to fund the football club, rather than extracting money from it, as the current owners are,” he said.

“Manchester United generates enough money from its own commercial activities to compete with the very best teams in the world.”
Manchester United was bought by the Glazer family in 2005.

It’s not the first time the Premier League football club, which is preparing to list on Singapore’s stock exchange, has been linked to the wealthy Gulf emirate. Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the state’s sovereign wealth fund, was in June forced to deny it was in talks to buy the club, saying there had been “no relevant negotiations”.

Media reports in the first quarter of the year appeared on an almost weekly basis linking Qatar Holdings with a bid for the club.

Singapore’s stock exchange approved Manchester United’s application to raise about $1bn in an initial public offering, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Manchester United had been reviewing the IPO schedule because of volatile markets, the people said.

The football club wants to raise cash to help cut almost $500m in debt, a burden that has made the club’s American owners deeply unpopular with some fans.

Its choice of Singapore was aimed at expanding the club’s huge Asian fan base as well as tapping the region’s stronger growth and investment climate.

Manchester United earlier this month reported record full year profit and revenue, strengthening its hand ahead of its planned flotation. The club said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and operation (EBITDA) rose to £110.9m in the year to end June from £101.2m the year before.

JP Morgan, which has been appointed as a global co-ordinator for the IPO, had forecast the club would make EBITDA of £114m this year.

The club said total revenue increased to £331.4m, up £45m on the year incorporating a 27 percent rise in commercial revenue boosted by the club’s £80m shirt sponsorship deal with Aon Corp.

That helped it swing to a pretax profit of £29.7m, compared with a loss of £15m last year.