Qatar Investment Authority have been working with local investors over a potential deal.
A bid is expected to arrive for Manchester United from Qatari investors by the end of the week, according to multiple reports.
With both United and Liverpool on the market at the same time, investment groups from across the globe, some from private equity and some sovereign wealth funds, have been linked with takeover bids since November.
Social media had been alive with rumour of potential interest from Qatar in Liverpool, with some suggestions that talks had taken place and that there had been an issue with regards to the amount of equity that Reds owners Fenway Sports Group were willing to give up. The ECHO has maintained, through well placed sources in the US with intimate knowledge of the situation, that no high-level talks have taken place and no bids have been received with any interested party from the Gulf nation. That remains the case.
FSG are less inclined to press ahead with a full sale of the club that they have owned since 2010; the American owners instead more focused on securing a minority investment to allow them to recapitalise the business and re-invest. There is a view that a minority partner that does come on board could accrete their interest over time into a full takeover of the club further on down the line. However, as of this week, there has been little in the way of high-level talks, with the Reds owners having been in attendance at the Major League Baseball owners meeting in Palm Beach in recent days, along with some key partners.
Qatari interest has manifested in United, though, with a bid expected by the end of the week, according to Bloomberg. An offer is said to be ‘imminent’, with officials at sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) helping with preparations for it, alongside local family offices. QIA had been linked with talks with Liverpool, as were Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the owners of Paris Saint-Germain. While possible, it is unlikely that two major funds from Qatar make approaches for competing assets at the same time, with both having strong links to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is a Manchester United fan.
Reports suggest that United could fetch between £5bn and £6bn, with a soft deadline for bids set for the end of this month.
A number of groups who were in the running for Chelsea last year will likely also show their hand at some stage, especially given that United employed the Raine Group to facilitate their sale search. Raine the same investment bank that also led the sale of Chelsea to Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.
Some of those interested parties are looking towards a minority stake, and also at Liverpool, where FSG principal John W. Henry, along with key partners, has a preference for a minority share sale.