Ratcliffe’s Ineos joins race to buy Manchester United

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s company Ineos has officially joined the race to buy the English football club, Bloomberg reported.

“I can confirm that we have formally put ourselves into the process,” a spokesman for Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group AG, told Bloomberg by email.

Ratcliffe becomes the first potential bidder to publicly declare an interest in buying the club.

Ratcliffe is the son of a joiner from Failsworth, in Greater Manchester, and was a boyhood fan of the club.

Manchester United’s shares soared in November on news that current owners, the Florida-based Glazer family, were considering a potential sale of the club.

On November 23, the club said the company’s board of directors was “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.”

As part of this process, the board said it would consider all strategic alternatives “including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company.”

Manchester United has a stock market value of about $3.8 billion.

The company said in November the current process was “designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalize on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.”

It said the process would include “an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, and expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale, each in the context of enhancing the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders.”

Bloomberg reported that Saudi Arabia is also a potential bidder in Manchester United. Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal told the BBC in November there was a lot of “interest and appetite” in both Manchester United and Liverpool in the kingdom and his government would support a private sector bid.