Manchester United fans are waiting anxiously to learn whether Malcolm Glazer intends to launch a takeover bid for the Old Trafford club. Confirmation that a representative of the American tycoon made contact with a representative of the major United shareholders, John Magnier and J P McManus, sparked supporters' fears that an official effort to buy the club was imminent.
As our business editor, Jason Nissé, reports today, it is thought the Irish racehorse owners will turn down a Glazer bid of £3 a share for their 29.9 per cent stake in the club. The US tycoon is said to be prepared to make a £750m all-cash offer but wants 100 per cent control. That offer is not deemed high enough by the Irish.
Glazer's intentions may well attract the attention of the Takeover Panel, who placed the club in an Offer Period for the second time this year, following the Stock Exchange announcement on Monday that United chief executive, David Gill, had received a "preliminary approach". If the panel deem too much information has been released into the public domain, they have the power to order Glazer to decide on a bid, a move that would preclude him from launching a takeover for another six months should he decide against.
A more likely scenario is that Glazer, whose ownership of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has attracted intense scrutiny from United fans, will spend the week considering his options and make contact with the Irishmen's Cubic Expression holding company. It is acknowledged that Magnier and McManus could make a hefty profit on any sale, as their shares were acquired at an average price of £2, 72p lower than Friday's closing price.
While it is thought Glazer intends to make constructing a bridge between the club and supporters a central component of his takeover plans, any delay would be exploited by the more militant fans. The "Manchester Education Committee", responsible for demonstrations last week, are planning a concerted campaign, and Gill can brace himself for an uncomfortable afternoon at the club's annual general meeting on 12 November.
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