Sir Jim Ratcliffe may be forced into selling his United shares within just 18 months of completing his part takeover.
Ratcliffe’s £1.3billion purchase of a 25 per cent stake in Man United was announced on Christmas Eve, with the British billionaire set to take control of the club’s football operations.
However, the deal is still yet to be fully rubber-stamped, although the proposal is expected to go through in around mid-February.
The 71-year-old has been seen in and around the club’s training facilities in recent weeks, as well as in the stands at Old Trafford for the Red Devils’ game against Tottenham alongside legendary former boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Yet new documents have revealed that Ratcliffe could be forced into selling up less than two years after sealing his buy-out.
A tender document has emerged, highlighting certain rules around the billionaire’s part-takeover of the club.
A separate filing on the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shows that although the Glazers cannot instigate a sale within a year of Ratcliffe’s takeover being completed, they will be able to sell the club outright once that period is up.
Ratcliffe may have the right to first refusal – and a sale cannot be instigated without written consent from his Trawler LTD company – but the Glazers are however allowed to sell the club to another interested party from that point.
The danger there for the 71-year-old would be that a much higher bid could come in over his head, leaving him forced to sell up his shares and unable to buy the rest of Man United and become the sole owner.
Therefore, for Ratcliffe to retain his stake if the Glazers look to sell up in around 18 months’ time, he would have to match the highest bid or lose his stake.
‘For so long as the Glazer parties are the majority holder, following the date that is 18 months after the closing date and in connection with any sale of the entire company, the Company Board may require the Trawlers party to sell all of their company ordinary shares and take such other actions as are reasonably necessary to effect the full sale,’ reads the document.
It adds: ‘If the sale occurs within three years of the closing of the offer, the Trawlers parties must receive at least $33 per share, which is the same price as the offer price.’
Ratcliffe will have plenty of work to do if he is to help turn United’s fortunes around after a poor season that saw them crash out of Europe after the Champions League group stage.
And that could end up costing the club a pretty penny, with United now set to miss out on £45million as a result.
In latest financial figures, club officials have had to readjust their expectations for the year – lowering expected revenues from £635m to £665m from previous guidance of £650m to £680m.
The numbers, which show a loss of £25.8m for the period, will be of interest to incoming 25 per cent investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose proposal is expected to be ratified in mid-February.
He will be buoyed by the fact first quarter revenues are up by 9 per cent year-on-year to £157.1m, which the club say ‘reflect strong economic foundations’.