LONDON – U.S. sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer (search) won control of Manchester United (search) on Thursday, clinching a deal to buy out the English soccer club's biggest shareholder and launching an offer to mop up the remaining shares.
Red Football Ltd, acting on behalf of Glazer, said it had agreed to buy a 28.7 percent stake in United from Cubic Expression, the investment vehicle of Irish race horse magnates John Magnier and J.P. McManus, for 300 pence a share.
As a result of the deal, Glazer, who already holds 28.1 percent, will own 56.9 percent of the world's richest soccer club and under UK takeover rules must bid for the rest.
The bid of 300 pence per share values the soccer club at $1.5 billion, and will give the Irish duo an estimated profit of $131 million from their investment.
"Glazer is in the driving seat, although he's had to go a bit hostile without the board's approval," said Richard Bullas, a fund manager at Rensburg Investment Management. Rensburg holds some Manchester United shares in its small-cap fund.
Glazer said his stake purchase from the Irish investors' vehicle Cubic Expression had been settled, and therefore when the offer is formally made it will be unconditional.
The 127-year-old northern English football club said in a statement it was awaiting the formal terms of the offer and would make a further announcement when its board has reviewed the offer.
Last month, United said the Glazer approach was fair and reasonable but that it did not believe the offer was in the best interests of the club because of the high level of debt in the bid and therefore could not recommend it.
Glazer, the owner of American football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (search), and his sons Avi and Joel plan to heap up to $562 million of debt on to the club's balance sheet, and raise the remainder of the cash themselves.
The 15-times English soccer league champions, home to star players Wayne Rooney (search) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (search), is debt free and has argued that it needs this flexibility because failure to qualify for the European Champions League would wipe out its annual pre-tax profits.