Man Utd confirms rise in Glazer stake

Manchester United confirmed yesterday that the American football tycoon Malcolm Glazer had increased his shareholding in the club to 14.31 per cent, fuelling speculation of an imminent takeover bid for the Premiership champions.

Although Mr Glazer, who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has told the club that his stake-building is purely an investment, analysts are scepticalthat he would be buying at the present relatively high share price levels unless he intended to take control of the club at some point.

Two of Mr Glazer's sons, Joel and Avie, met David Gill and Nick Humby, Manchester United's chief executive and finance director, respectively, at an American football game last week. Joel is understood to be a long-standing fan of United.

Mr Glazer is notoriously publicity shy. His other big sports investment, the Buccaneers, has been a spectacular success. The team won the Super Bowl in January, eight years after he bought it for $192m, a record for an NFL team. The franchise is now thought to be worth about $800m.

His main business vehicle is First Allied Corp, based in Rochester, New York, which specialises in developing shopping malls across the United States. First Allied also controls the Buccaneers and a stake in Zapata Corp, which in turn controls Omega Protein Corp, a producer of fish oil.

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