New bidder stalks Man United

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER UNITED, arguably the biggest and wealthiest football club in the world, is being courted by a mystery suitor.

The treble-winning club is seen as a desirable acquisition - with contenders such as the Sultan of Brunei, Prince Waleed bin Talal, who has invested in Disneyland Paris and Canary Wharf, and an unnamed European media group all rumoured to be considering bids.

A proposed takeover by the satellite broadcaster BSkyB was blocked by the monopolies authorities earlier this year after fans opposed the deal.

To add to the speculation, the legendary Irish gambler J P McManus is understood to have offered to buy Manchester United shares from its chairman, Martin Edwards, on behalf of a group of racing figures, but was rebuffed. The horseracing group is said to have wanted to buy the bulk of Mr Edwards' 36 million shares, valued at pounds 80m, but was prepared to settle for a third of the total stake.

Rumours of a renewed bid for the club have been circulating in the City for some weeks. The shares rose 3p to 211p yesterday - having touched 218p at one stage - valuing the club at pounds 555m, but some analysts have said it could be worth pounds 1bn.

Mystery suitor, page 18

Business Outlook, page 19