Private Investor: Mr Glazer versus Fans United looks like a tough match
Saturday 09 October 2004
We sent Murdoch packing and gave Magnier and McManus a bloody nose. If Glazer wants a fight, we will give him one."
You have to admire the spirit of Jules Spencer, chairman of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association, in this reaction to the news that Malcolm Glazer is trying to buy Manchester United, very possibly with the co-operation of the club's two largest investors, JP McManus and John Magnier.
I wonder if the plucky fans will triumph. After all, it was the Competition Commission that saw off Rupert Murdoch last time, basically because of his interests in Sky TV, and no such objections can be easily raised in relation to Glazer.
Glazer owns 19.1 per cent of United, and Cubic Expression, the investment vehicle of Magnier and McManus, controls 28.9 per cent. Thus they have 48 per cent in all. Under Stock Exchange rules, Glazer would, if the deal went through, then be compelled to offer the club's remaining shareholders the same price as he offered Magnier and McManus, if they sold their shares to him. The whisper around the market is that that price will be 300p a share, compared to about 250p before the present fuss started, a potentially tempting price.
Against all that, we have Shareholders United; it runs some of the fans' stake in the club and its holding amounts to 1.9 per cent. So not much of a scrap there, you might think.
Yet taken altogether, small investors, such as me, own 18 per cent. The significance of this is not that they could ever outvote a Glazer-McManus-Magnier combine, but that they could be an irritating minority for Mr Glazer to deal with if he took the business off the stock market.
The key stake that he must get hold of is 75 per cent. Once he has that, he can make any changes he wants to. But if the 18 per cent hold firm, he will have very little margin for error, because if another 7.1 per cent escapes his clutches,he will be short of that vital 75 per cent. And, until he gets 90 per cent of the shares he cannot emulate Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and compel small shareholders to sell to him.
The chances of the holders of the 18 per cent being of much the same mind and willing and able to collude are probably surprisingly high. First, each small shareholding of a hundred shares, say, is not going to make or break the financial health of the holder. Who cares if your £250 worth of shares are now worth £300? Surely that is not enough to make you sell the soul of your beloved club?
Second, for these investors, owning a share of Man U is more an emotional than economic decision, so greed shouldn't motivate them. Third, they themselves have a say in the club. Fourth, there are plenty of websites to consult (www.ShareholdersUnited.org, for example) and the story is sufficiently important for all the developments and the views of the fans' representatives to be well covered in the national press. Small shareholders acting in informal concert is viable.
So the question is whether Mr Glazer will proceed with his bid, knowing that this defending wall of small shareholders-cum-fans may, with a little help, prevent him taking the club private. If only Mr Glazer could persuade the fans that Man U is safe in his hands. As for me, I'm sitting tight and waiting for my 300p a share offer. Then I'll think about what to do.
Back in the world of more rational investment, I have done as I intended and bought Shell, for rather more than I intended, at 422p. It's sobering to think that that is still lower than when I first bought the shares some seven years ago (457p). I bought more at sub-400p levels, which means I have averaged down the purchase price of the holding quite effectively. I hope that the outlook for the oil price and the reforms at the company now being implemented will mean that that run of seven years' bad luck is broken.
The real star in my portfolio continues to be Tesco. The shares continue to make solid, unspectacular progress and, as they say, every little helps. Every little bit of bad news about J Sainsbury certainly helps the Tesco share price. Should be 300p by Christmas.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Simon Read: There may be trouble ahead for cohabiting couples who don’t make a will
Mark Dampier: Strong returns can be found if you go the opposite way to the crowds
Money Insider: Would £150 make you switch banks?
Bargain Hunter: Find the deals that have real value beneath the Black Friday hype
Gold-plated pensions – the key to retirement freedom?
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
iJobs Money & Business
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens