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Glazer clinches full control of Man Utd

By Siobhan Kennedy
May 17, 2005 11:03 IST

US financier Malcolm Glazer seized full control of Manchester United on Monday, raising his stake in the British soccer giants to just over 75 percent as part of a 790 million pound ($1.47 billion) takeover, a source close to the matter said.

At that level Glazer can now delist Manchester United Plc from the London Stock Exchange and implement new plans for the club without having to seek approval from other shareholders.

It is not yet clear if Glazer intends to continue buying shares in the market until he reaches the next key threshold of 90 percent, above which he can force out any remaining minority shareholders.

Another source said there was no urgency to continue buying above the 75 percent mark but said it was something Glazer might do over time.

After a bitter two year takeover battle, the US tycoon finally took control of the 15-times British soccer champions last Thursday by buying a 28.7 percent stake from the club's biggest shareholder, Cubic Expression, an investment vehicle for Irish racehorse magnates John Magnier and J.P. McManus.

That elevated his stake to 56.9 percent and, under UK takeover rules, kicked off a mandatory offer for the remaining shares.

Glazer's advisers moved quickly, snapping up more shares by striking deals with other investors. He ended the week with just under 75 percent of the 127-year-old club.

But furious fans have vowed to fight on, saying Glazer has no knowledge of football and plans to cream the profits off the club to pay back the debts used to buy it.

In particular they object to the 265 million pounds of debt Glazer plans to pile onto United's balance sheet.

A hardline group of them defaced the merchandise store at United's Old Trafford football stadium in Manchester on Monday. But the anti-Glazer graffiti was soon painted over and there were no reports of other disturbances or protests.

Meanwhile, the Shareholders United fan site is still urging United fans to buy up shares in a bid to cut off Glazer in his tracks. They're also pushing fans to boycott United merchandise and its sponsors' products.

The source close to the process said some fans were trying to buy shares at just over Glazer's 300 pence a share offer price.

But with Glazer now in control of three quarters of the club, analysts have said there is nothing they can do.

Glazer's next step is to send his offer document to shareholders giving detailed information about the share offer.

That will put in place a timetable from the UK's Takeover Panel giving Glazer a 60-day period in which to complete his acquisition. The offer document is expected to be posted some time this week, another source close to the process said.

 

Siobhan Kennedy
Source: source
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