Glazer has enough shares to take United private

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The Independent Online

Malcolm Glazer was today in a position to end Manchester United's 14-year stretch as a stock market-listed company.

Malcolm Glazer was today in a position to end Manchester United's 14-year stretch as a stock market-listed company.

The US sports tycoon's advisers are known to have picked up enough shares to take the club private, although the exact level of the tycoon's shareholding is unlikely to be revealed until after the stock market closes tonight.

Interest will now be on whether Mr Glazer has secured the 90% of shares that would allow him to buy the rest of the stock on a compulsory basis.

Anything below 90% and existing shareholders would be entitled to remain as minority owners, but with next to no rights over the company.

They would be able to receive copies of the club's accounts and the right to attend annual meetings, although Mr Glazer has already warned that the payment of a dividend was likely to be withdrawn.

Mr Glazer began the day with 74.81% of shares, following Thursday's purchase of the 29% stake owned by Irish racing magnates JP McManus and John Magnier.

Around five million shares changed hands during the morning session today, more than sufficient for Mr Glazer to break the 75% threshold for the business to be taken private. It listed on the stock market in 1991.

United fans have vowed to continue their protests against Mr Glazer and his family, who they believe will saddle the club with too much debt. They are concerned that the amount required to service the debt could impact on the club's ability to sign new players.

Speculation is growing over possible protests at this Saturday's FA Cup Final, while campaigners have also talked of a boycott of merchandise and the prospect of legal action to prevent the stock delisting.

Last week the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers revealed that the £790 million takeover required £540 million of borrowing, including a £265 million loan facility secured against United's assets. The Glazer family will provide £272 million towards the offer.

He may reveal further details of his plans in a formal offer document due to be posted to shareholders on Wednesday.

Richard Hunter, of Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said: "The issue now is about what the man's vision is.

"There are questions around repaying the debt and making Manchester United a much bigger brand than it is now. This is a shrewd businessman who has probably got something up his sleeve."

Mr Hunter pointed out that the sale of naming rights to the Old Trafford stadium could be lucrative, if a previous £100 million deal with Emirates for Arsenal's stadium and kit sponsorship is a guide.

Mr Glazer has not yet provided details of his plans for United, although reports suggest there may be a £25 million transfer kitty for new players. He has pledged to stick by the current management team.

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