Feb 9, 2023
Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe Taps JPMorgan, Goldman to Advise on Man United Bid
(Bloomberg) -- British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has lined up banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to provide debt financing for a bid to buy Manchester United FC, a person familiar with the matter said.
The banks are prepared to back a takeover offer with bonds and loans, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information. If a bid is made, the banks will cover the value of Manchester United’s existing debt—which stands at roughly $800 million—and potentially go much higher, they said.
Goldman Sachs is also advising Ratcliffe alongside JPMorgan Chase & Co. as he studies the feasibility of an offer for Manchester United, widely regarded as one of the biggest brands in world football, another person said.
Deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty that Ratcliffe, who is chairman of chemicals company Ineos Group Holdings Plc, will decide to proceed with a bid or that banks will commit to financing one, the people said. Representatives for Goldman Sachs, Ineos and JPMorgan declined to comment.
Manchester United has been the subject of intensifying takeover chatter since the summer, when Bloomberg News reported the club’s American owners, the Glazer family, were open to selling a stake in the team. Adam Sommerfeld, a sports investment specialist at Certus Capital, said any offer for the English Premier League team would need to exceed £4 billion ($4.9 billion) to be successful.
Shares in Manchester United surged in New York this week on reports that wealthy Qatari investors are planning a bid to take over the whole club.
Ratcliffe, a Manchester United fan, was the first serious contender to officially declare himself interested in acquiring the club. Having co-founded Ineos in the 1990s, he’s worth $13 billion today, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Last year, he was unsuccessful with a late offer worth £4.25 billion to buy Chelsea FC, another Premier League club.
Read more: Manchester City Faces Premier League Probe Into Finances
Wall Street’s biggest banks have become increasingly active as advisers to football clubs and their owners as more money pours into the world’s favorite sport. In January, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs submitted separate proposals to provide debt finance to Serie A, Italy’s top football league.
In recent times, JPMorgan has also acted for the Glazers on the sale of some shares in Manchester United, advised Italian club Juventus FC on a €400 million ($431 million) rights issue and provided financing to France’s Ligue 1 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, is working alongside Morgan Stanley with the owners of Liverpool FC on the possible sale of all or part of their holding in the Premier League club, people familiar with the matter said last year. In Spain, Goldman Sachs is helping to arrange funds to revamp FC Barcelona’s stadium.
JPMorgan came in for criticism in 2021 when it emerged as the bank backing plans for a breakaway Super League in Europe. Roundly derided by fans, leagues and politicians, the proposal concocted by many of European football’s biggest clubs was quickly scrapped. This week, consultancy A22 Sports Management published a set of principles under which a revised Super League might work.
Read more: Man United, Liverpool Said to Be Buyout Targets for Qatar
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