Profits drop at United unlikely to bolster Glazer bid

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The Independent Online

Malcolm Glazer will wait until Manchester United release their faltering half-yearly figures today before even scheduling official talks between his and United's advisers about a formal takeover of the club.

Malcolm Glazer will wait until Manchester United release their faltering half-yearly figures today before even scheduling official talks between his and United's advisers about a formal takeover of the club.

It is understood no bid will actually be tabled any earlier than a week today because of the diary commitments of all parties in the run-up to Easter and over the holiday period.

The American tycoon hopes that United's financial blip will somehow persuade the club's board to change its mind and back his buyout, but United sources say there is little reason for this to be the case.

The board has already indicated it will reject a 300p offer by Glazer for being too reliant on borrowing. Even if the board has softened on Glazer - and there is no evidence of that - then a neutral rather than positive stance is apparently Glazer's best hope.

United are today expected to announce an interim pre-tax profit of £13m, a decrease of 50 per cent compared to last year. Turnover is also expected to have fallen by around six per cent, from £92.4m to around £87m.

The poor start to the financial year has been flagged for months. United said in September that they faced a short-term fall in profits because of reduced TV income. United will today blame falling income from the Premier League rights' deal, and the impact of finishing third in the Premiership last season, which led to reduced earnings from the Champions' League television pot.

Glazer, 76, owns 28.1 per cent of United, and has already completed due diligence on the club for a proposed £800m buyout. He would probably have moved sooner with a formal bid if his son Joel, the leading figure in the takeover, had not been ill. As the Independent revealed last month, Joel had emergency surgery on 17 February for a ruptured appendix and was forbidden to travel by his doctors.

If United's board fails to recommend Glazer's bid, it could still be offered directly to shareholders in a hostile move. Whichever route Glazer is forced to take, the pivotal figures in the whole saga remain John Magnier and JP McManus, the Irish racing tycoons who own 29 per cent of United via their Cubic Expression firm.

Taken at face value, their recent assertion that they remain "long-term investors" hints that they will not sell at 300p, thus any Glazer bid at that price would be over before it began. Glazer has yet to make any contact about upping his offer.

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