By Chiara Elisei, Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro and Amy-Jo Crowley
LONDON (Reuters) – Buyout financier Ares Management Corp has been offering funds to support a takeover of Manchester United, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
It is the latest U.S. asset manager to seek a financing role in the battle for the English soccer club. Hedge fund Elliot Management is also looking to finance a bid, having ruled out a full takeover of the club. Oaktree Capital is also reported to have offered financing to bidders.
Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, are considering selling the club in what could become the biggest sports deal ever. The club received indicative offers last Friday.
Ares, which oversees roughly $350 billion in assets, has offered funds in the form of structured equity to at least one bidder, one of the sources said. However, this bidder turned down the funding because the terms were unattractive, he said.
Structured equity refers to a form of funding that typically sits between equity and debt in a company’s capital stack and comes with regular payments.
A spokesperson for Ares declined to comment.
Ares, one of the largest providers of private credit, was reported in 2020 to be backing Miami-based soccer investor Kapital Football Group in its pursuit of buying an English Premier League club. Kapital was reported a year later to have abandoned efforts to acquire Southampton.
Ares was also reported to have backed two of the failed bids for Chelsea last year, before that club’s 4.25 billion pound ($5.1 billion) sale to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and backed by Clearlake Capital.
Ares recently raised $3.7 billion for a dedicated sports fund with a mandate to invest in leagues and teams.
It was unclear whether Ares has been looking to finance bids for Manchester United through that fund, which has already invested in Spain’s Atletico de Madrid soccer club and Inter Miami CF, or another vehicle.
The investment manager was among the financial backers for American entrepreneur John Textor’s acquisition of France’s Olympique Lyonnais in December.
Last Friday, Manchester United received indicative offers from bidders including chemicals firm INEOS, led by long-time fan Jim Ratcliffe, and Qatari Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
Jassim intends to fund his bid without debt, he said.
INEOS wants to fund an offer without external financing, but could consider bringing in a minority equity partner, one source said.
INEOS did not respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Chiara Elisei, Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro and Amy-Jo Crowley in London and Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Matt Scuffham and Christina Fincher)