- A prolonged sale process of Man United has been ongoing since last November
- Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to take over 25 per cent of the club is nearing completion
- It’s a three-team title race… Toney could lead Arsenal to glory: It’s All Kicking Off
US billionaire Leon Cooperman has reportedly bought just under one million shares in Manchester United.
Bloomberg have reported that the shares purchased by Cooperman – who is a former hedge fund manager – are worth £13.5m.
The shock news of Cooperman’s investment comes as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to take over 25 per cent of the club for £1.3bn is nearing completion after a long-winded sale process that began last November.
Ratcliffe and Qatari royal Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani were the front-runners in the bidding war and both parties submitted multiple offers, before Jassim withdrew from the process last month having bid £5.5bn.
Cooperman, 80, founded Omega Advisors which is a private investment partnership based in New York City and has a reported net worth of more than £2bn.
US billionaire Leon Cooperman has reportedly bought almost one million shares in Man United
It comes as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to purchase a 25 per cent stake is nearing completion
However, he is expected to take a much smaller stake than Ratcliffe, meaning the unpopular Glazers will retain their majority ownership of the club.
Ratcliffe, who is head of INEOS, is set to be in control of football matters at Old Trafford.
The British billionaire has a sporting empire which encompasses cycling, rugby and sailing along with two football teams in French side Nice and Swiss outfit Lausanne-Sport, while he also owns a third of F1 team Mercedes.
After the news of Cooperman’s investment, United’s share price on the New York stock exchange rose around 2.3 per cent to $18.60, the highest it has been since November 3, with the price having been highly volatile throughout the takeover process.
Filings on the stock exchange from earlier this year have also shown a number of hedge funds have acquired small stakes in the club, including Psquared Asset Management AG and Antara Capital.
Meanwhile, Eminence Capital, another hedge fund, is currently the third-largest shareholder in the club, according to Bloomberg.
Their founder Ricky Sandler recently said he would ‘oppose any (takeover) deal that gives the majority Glazers a materially better deal than minority investors’.
Mail Sport had reported on Sunday how those with knowledge of the takeover situation say there is a chance the agreement for Ratcliffe’s 25 per cent stake could be announced this week, although next week is more likely.
The anniversary of a tiresome process, which began when the Glazers confirmed they were open to investment, is November 22.
Cooperman, 80, is a former US hedge fund manager and has a net worth of more than £2bn
United’s hugely unpopular American owners have drained more than £1bn out of the club since their leveraged takeover in 2005 (pictured – Avram Glazer (left) and Joel Glazer (right)
While Ratcliffe hopes to complete a full takeover one day, for United fans it will at least take some control away from the hugely unpopular Glazers.
The American family have have been a source of discontent at Old Trafford ever since they became majority owners in 2005, facing significant fan anger and backlash following their highly-leveraged takeover which placed £525m worth of loans onto the brand of United. They have since racked up the club’s debts to £536m.
Overall, they have taken more than £1bn out of United in the form of dividends, interests, costs and fees during their 18-year-reign, which has been dominated by a decline in on-pitch performance and success.