Manchester United Sells 25 Percent Ownership Stake to Jim Ratcliffe

After a year of rumors, offers, final deadlines and final, final deadlines, the owners of Manchester United on Sunday announced that they had sold a minority stake in the team, English soccer’s most successful club, to the British petrochemical billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.

The sale of the 25 percent stake in United, the former English and European champion, was confirmed by representatives of United and INEOS, Mr. Ratcliffe’s company. The deal concluded a chaotic process that many of the team’s fans had hoped would end with something far more significant: the departure from the club of the team’s current owners, the Florida-based Glazer family, which has controlled United since acquiring it in a leveraged buyout in 2005.

Instead, the Glazers will remain the team’s majority owners while netting a sum that values Manchester United around $5.5 billion, or more than five times the amount the Glazers paid to buy it almost two decades ago.

Ratcliffe, through INEOS, agreed to pay $33 per share for his 25 percent stake, a price that represents a nearly 70 percent premium on the current value of the team’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

The sale process began more than a year ago, kicked off by an offhand comment from Elon Musk on social media that he was buying the club. Musk later said his offer had been a joke, but the Glazers were apparently serious about hearing more.

United hired the U.S.-based merger and acquisition specialist Raine Group to manage a prospective sale after the firm secured a record price, roughly $3 billion, for another English club, Chelsea. When the Glazers made clear they were open to hearing offers, bidders quickly lined up, including not only Mr. Ratcliffe, but also an American investment fund and a Qatari businessman with links to some of the Gulf country’s most influential figures. Their offers seemed to rise with each new media report.

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