By Joanne Bladd
Negotiations floundering on asking price, Qatar said to have made approach after FIFA win
Qatar Holding, the wealth fund of gas-rich Qatar, has offered a reported £1.5bn ($2.4bn) to buy Premier League club Manchester United from its current owners.
The fund, which is managed by the Qatari royal family, approached the club shortly after the Gulf state secured the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, the Sunday Times said.
Negotiations are said to have collapsed because the asking price of £2bn was more than the Qatar fund was prepared to pay.
The Glazers paid £800m for the club in 2005, the majority of which was provided by loans secured against the club's assets.
Manchester United CEO David Gill told Arabian Business last week that the club currently has debts of around £500m.
“The debt levels we have got are roughly £500m in bonds, the interest costs on that are roughly £45m, and our EBITDA is in the order of £100m, and growing,” he said.
The reported deal, if completed, would be a feather in Qatar’s multibillion-dollar asset portfolio. The Gulf state has been on a spending spree in recent years, and now owns a spread of trophy assets including London luxury department store, Harrods, a stake in retail giant J Sainsbury’s and a 24 percent share in Songbird Estates, owner of the Canary Wharf financial district.
Qatar in December agreed a $39.8m-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with three-time European soccer champion Barcelona, to run until 2016.
Manchester United has denied any approach from Qatar and has said the club is not for sale.
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