Glazer to renew siege of United

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The Independent Online

The US sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer is set to put renewed pressure on the Manchester United board next week to accept his £800m takeover bid for the club.

Mr Glazer's financial adviser, Rothschilds, has now completed due diligence on the club and is due to resume talks with its adviser, Cazenove, about obtaining a board recommendation for its offer, once Manchester United has reported its interim results on Tuesday.

The club said in February that although the 300p-a-share proposal from Mr Glazer was a fair price, it was unlikely to be able to recommend an offer because of the debt-laden nature of the bid. However, it added that it was ultimately for shareholders to decide whether any offer would succeed.

One option could be for the club to seek approval from the Takeover Panel for Mr Glazer to make an offer to shareholders without any recommendation from the board one way or another. There is also a possibility of the club facing legal action from hedge funds which have bought into the stock for the board's refusal to recommend an offer even though it has accepted that the price is a fair one.

Mr Glazer, the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team, holds a 28.8 per cent stake in Manchester United. The Irish horse racing duo of JP McManus and John Magnier hold a further 29 per cent through their investment vehicle Cubic Expression, and their support is crucial if the Glazer camp is to succeed. However, the Irish are anxious not to be seen to deliver control of the club to Mr Glazer against the wishes of the board.

Shareholders United, the fan-based organisation, is vehemently opposed to the Glazer bid, even though he has indicated he would keep down ticket prices and retain ownership of the club's Old Trafford ground. The fans say the leveraged nature of the bid would still cause immense damage to the club. Mr Glazer is proposing to put in £250m of his own cash, raise £300m in debt from a syndicate of banks and a further £250m from an issue of preference shares, which would amount to quasi-debt because it would still be secured against club assets.

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