A third bidder has been passed through to the second stage of the process to buy Manchester United, according to a new report from The Daily Mail.
The Peoples Person reported earlier this evening that Sir Jim Ratcliffe, head of petrochemical giant INEOS, and Sheikh Jassim, a Qatari entrepreneur, had been given the green light to enter the second stage of negotiations.
This means that the Raine Group, who are acting on behalf of the Glazer family to find a buyer, had accepted that they have legitimate credibility and financing to acquire the club.
However, The Mail now claims that a third unnamed party has also passed the initial screening and been allowed to go on to the next stage.
This will involve all three parties being given full access to the club’s financials.
The Mail reports that “Despite the development, which comes a fortnight after bids were submitted, there is a growing frustration amid some of those involved at a continuing lack of access to United’s full financial picture.”
The interested parties have had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, meaning that they cannot reveal what they find when looking at United’s books.
The Glazers are reported to be looking for a figure of around $6 billion but it is understood that the current highest bid stands short of that, at around $4.5bn.
The club’s book value is reported to be around $1.7bn.
“A number of summits will take place between those now through to the second stage of the process, merchant bankers Raine who are overseeing negotiations and United top brass,” The Mail says.
“It is thought that a number of senior figures from United, including chief financial officer Cliff Baty and chief executive Richard Arnold, will be present at the meetings, along with officials from New York-based Raine.”
The identity of the third party remains a mystery although there has been considerable speculation about a bid from Saudi Arabia.
American bids have also been mooted from the likes of Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment (HBSE), a sports and entertainment holding company, the co-chairman of Bain Capital and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, Steve Pagliuca and an unnamed third bidder.
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