Glazer plans fresh £800m bid for Manchester United

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The Independent Online

Malcolm Glazer, the American billionaire, is this week planning a renewed £800m offer for Manchester United, the UK's largest football club, which will include a higher cash element and less gearing.

Malcolm Glazer, the American billionaire, is this week planning a renewed £800m offer for Manchester United, the UK's largest football club, which will include a higher cash element and less gearing.

The subject of a new bid is believed to have surfaced at a meeting last week between Andy Gill, the Manchester United chief executive, and representatives of Mr Glazer, who is a 28 per cent shareholder in the club.

Mr Gill called the meeting to ask Mr Glazer to approve the reappointment of Andy Anson, Phillip Yea and Maurice Watson - the three non-executive directors whom Mr Glazer voted off the board in October. However, at the end of the meeting, Mr Glazer's representatives told Mr Gill that Mr Glazer was prepared to make a new offer for the club, which would include a higher element of cash, and less borrowing.

Manchester United rejected Mr Glazer's initial unofficial offer two months ago, arguing that the high levels of gearing would have had a detrimental effect on the club, possibly forcing it to securitise its season ticket book, or to sell and lease back its home ground, Old Trafford.

Opponents of the deal yesterday raised doubts about Mr Glazer's ability to raise any further cash, although it is possible that a restructuring of the offer, keeping some or all of the new debt outside of the Manchester United group, may be adequate to deal with the board's initial objections.

Although Forbes magazine recently put the tycoon's personal wealth at more than $1bn (£515m), much of this is tied up in assets such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an American football team, which he is unlikely to want to sell. Another possibility would be that he has found another backer prepared to come in alongside him in his bid for Manchester United.

Reports at the weekend said Mr Glazer had appointed Commerzbank as his adviser for his next offer. In October, JP Morgan, the US investment bank which had offered to lend Mr Glazer up to $500m, dropped him as a client after a disagreement over his decision to vote the three directors off the board. Morgan has a policy of avoiding hostile situations.

Manchester United is keen to see off the uncertainty caused by Mr Glazer's recent interest, but is unable to ask the Takeover Panel to force him to reveal his intentions, as the group is no longer in an offer period.

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