It’s only a matter of time according to savvy investors. Manchester United’s £250m of 8.75 percent notes due 2017 have gained 5.59 pence since February 8 amid media speculation that the club is in talks with Qatar Holding for a sale. The Arabian Business.com website reported today that “Bonds of Manchester United rose to a record high amid speculation the 18 time English soccer champion may be sold to the Qatari royal family.”
The Qataris are known to always get what they set their hearts on. They wanted the British institution Harrods which has been described as ‘the Manchester United of Department Stores’ and they got it. Qatar was determined to obtain the FIFA rights to stage the 2022 World Cup and despite huge obstacles, they succeeded. The Qatar Royal Family now have their eyes on one of the world’s biggest sporting brands and it appears to no longer be a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’ before the Glazers succumb.
An analyst at Evolution Securities Ltd. in London., Jonathan Moore said “A lot of investors expect the Qatar deal to happen now, as a result, you would have a stronger owner financially with no real concerns about them taking cash out of the club plus, a new owner might decide to take out the bonds, which would mean paying a premium.”
The Qataris were offering £1.6bn compared with the £1.8bn demanded by the Glazer family the Daily Mail reported on February 13. Club CEO David Gill told Arabian Business in January that the brand is worth close to $2bn. The Glazers loaded the club with debt in their 2005 leveraged buyout and are despised by United fans because of the strain they’ve put on the team’s finances. The club also has $425m of bonds due 2017.
As is to be expected with these type of high finance negotiations, the owners spokesman Philip Townsend insists that no approach has been made to buy the club and that it’s not for sale. United has been the best performer in the Premier League since the Glazer’s 2005 takeover, winning three straight championships between 2007 and 2009 and the 2008 Champions League.
Do you expect a sale to be finalised by the end of the season?