Aka John Magnier and JP McManus (above), Irish racing tycoons who increased their stake in United to 28.89 per cent yesterday. Central figures in the so-called "Coolmore mafia", named after the Coolmore Stud in Ireland, the heart of Magnier's bloodstock empire. Magnier's friendship with Sir Alex Ferguson began in 1997 but has soured over the disputed stud rights to the champion racehorse Rock Of Gibraltar. McManus, reputedly a billionaire, is also a major figure in racing and enjoys legendary status as a massive gambler. Sources at Cubic claim that Magnier's row with Ferguson does not affect Cubic's business decisions.
The 75-year-old United States sports tycoon, who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 2003 Super Bowl champions, has an estimated fortune of more than $1bn (£540m) and owns a 14.3 per cent stake in United, purchased last year. He amassed his money after inheriting his father's watch-making business and then investing the profits in property and Zapata, an oil and gas company. Glazer is on friendly terms with Rupert Murdoch. A plan to buy the LA Dodgers from Murdoch last year did not come to fruition but it is thought that Glazer - and his sons Ed, Bryan and Joel - are not averse to future dealings with him.
The 56-year-old Scot made his money from mineral mining in north and central America, particularly Canada, where he still has major business assets. He bought into United in May 2002 when he paid the former chairman Martin Edwards £20m for 17m of his shares, equating to 6.5 per cent of the club. Dobson's major sporting passion is racing. He breeds horses in Ireland, although nowhere near on the scale of Coolmore. His next interest is rugby. He had never been to Old Trafford when he first invested. He had no original allegiance to Magnier and McManus but is open to persuasion.
Legal & General plc
Manchester United announced to the Stock Exchange last week that Legal & General Group "and/or it subsidiaries" had acquired a 3.11 per cent stake in the club, or more than 8m shares. The announcement in itself was nothing more than is required by City regulations when any one stakeholder takes their investment above three per cent. Legal & General's holding is more significant, however, in that it indicates the City's confidence in the stock, either because talk of a takeover has made it attractive or because it is regarded as a stable long-term investment.
The Irish multi-millionaire financier, who also owns Celtic, holds a stake in United now estimated at 1.7 per cent. A close ally of Magnier and McManus, he could be relied upon to support them if and when they called an Extraordinary General Meeting. Potentially the most intriguing aspect of his association is his relationship with the Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, who has been touted as a replacement for Ferguson at an undisclosed time in the future. Having his friends in power at United could only help his cause when he argues in favour of Premiership membership for Scotland's Old Firm.
John de Mol
The Dutch media tycoon, whose company Endemol is behind the Big Brother franchise, bought a 4.1 per cent stake (11m shares) in United last year. He sold 8m of those shares to Cubic in the deal announced yesterday and then said he would sell the rest of his stock over the coming days. A spokesman said the reason for the sales was that De Mol thinks the shares are overvalued and the club's image has been damaged by the Ferguson-Magnier legal dispute over Rock Of Gibraltar. Though evidently about to leave the picture, his legacy has been to hand greater power to Cubic.
Some 40,000 small stakeholders own shares in United. Around 5,000, with a combined stakeholding of about 1 per cent, have pooled their resources under the umbrella of the fans' group, Shareholders United. The only other shareholders known to own more than 1 per cent are Maurice Watkins (2.3), a United director, and the bank Crédit Suisse (2.9).
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