sell-out? | 

US firm wants slice of Manchester United – as Glazer’s plot partial sale

The sale process for the Old Trafford club is being handled by American merchant bank Raine Group

Manchester United joint chairmen Joel Glazer (right) and Avram Glazer at Old Trafford. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA© PA


American investment firm Sixth Street, which has been involved in major refinancing projects with European Super League rebels Real Madrid and Barcelona, has signalled it could be ready to invest in Manchester United.

The New York firm that has been critical to the financial reorganisation of the two Spanish clubs has accepted an invitation to analyse United’s financial performance, along with a number of other interested parties.

The sale process for the Old Trafford club is being handled by American merchant bank Raine Group, which played the same role in the sale of Chelsea last year, and it is primarily US interest that leads the way.

The Glazer family, who’ve had full control of United since 2005, will consider an investment partner taking a minority stake as well as a full sale. It is understood Sixth Street would not be willing to undertake a full takeover.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has said he will formally join the process, which commits parties to secrecy. There are many others who have reached that preliminary stage, chiefly American private equity funds.

Sixth Street’s involvement is fundamental because of its role in the refinancing of Real Madrid and Barcelona – both still in a legal battle with Uefa over the future of domestic club competitions in Europe. Along with Juventus, the two Spanish giants are opposed to the new format for the Champions League post-2024, and are still exploring their legal right to end Uefa’s monopoly on organising pan-European club competitions.

The scale of Sixth Street’s involvement with the “big two” of Spanish football, who dominate their domestic game, cannot be overstated. In May last year, Sixth Street agreed a €360m, 20-year deal with Real president Florentino Perez to operate businesses out of the rebuilt Bernabeu Stadium.

At Barcelona, the connection is even stronger: Sixth Street was the financier for the first of the so-called financial levers that the debt-stricken club pulled this year to raise a total of €700m by selling future revenue streams.

Bought in two tranches for a combined sum of €507.5m, Sixth Street now owns 25pc of the income from Barcelona’s La Liga television rights for the next 25 years.

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