Trips to the North Pole, endless safaris and a 160 million yacht: the life and work of Jim Ratcliffe, the tycoon who wants to buy Manchester United

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The Glazer family’s decision to put the stock in Manchester Utd kicked off a quest similar to that of the prince in love in Cinderella. It doesn’t seem easy to find the right foot for such a shoe, as not many dare to run for control of the English giant that has fallen from grace for nearly a decade. In that race, Jim Ratcliffe, the richest man in the UK, who he had already flirted with red devils in August last year and a few months earlier he had tried to take over Chelsea.

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The United was put on the “for sale” sign in November, although the period for the formal presentation of offers, which are expected to arrive from the United States, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, will not open until the beginning of February. However, Ratcliffe anticipated play and moved ahead of his potential opponents. “We have formally submitted to the trial”, warned a spokesman for the tycoon in statements collected by the British newspaper The Times. The idea is to complete the operation before the end of the current season.

If completed, this sale would end an administration that began in May 2005, when American tycoon Malcolm Glazer has made an initial investment of £800m ($1.5 billion at the time) to stay with the Old Trafford club. After the patriarch’s death in May 2014, his sons Avram and Joel took over, whose management coincided with a lean period: since the departure of Alex Ferguson at the end of the 2012/13 seasonUnited won four titles, not a lot for such an institution, and were unable to lift the Premier League or Champions League trophy.

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The unsatisfactory sporting results, despite the million-dollar investments in players not up to expectations (since Ferguson’s departure, the expenditure on reinforcements has exceeded £1 billion), has generated deep unease in a large part of United fans, who for years have been asking the Glazer family to leave the club founded on 5 March 1878 by the freight and maintenance workers of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company under the name of Newton Calore lyr extension

For this to finally happen, the US owners must agree on a sale price with whoever wants to run the institution. In May of last year, trade magazine Forbes listed United at £4.6bn and ranked them as the third most valuable club on the planet, surpassed only by Real Madrid (5,100 million) and Barcelona (5,000 million). According to the British newspaper The Sun, the Glazers aim to get more than 5,000 million pounds ($6,170 million) for the transaction.

Although the figures sound exorbitant, it doesn’t seem to intimidate Jim Ratcliffe, the first to raise his hand to stick with the most successful club in Premier League history. This 70-year-old chemical engineer (born October 18, 1952 in Failsworth), founder, president and majority shareholder of Ineos chemistry, he is the richest man in the UK and in 2022 ranked No. 111 on Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires, with a fortune valued at $16.3 billion.

Son of a carpenter father and administrative accountant mother, Ratcliffe graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Chemical Engineering and subsequently studied Management Accounting at the London Business School. He worked at the oil company Esso and at the American investment fund Advent International before starting his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 40: in 1992 he mortgaged his house to acquire, together with his then partner John Hollowwood and in exchange of 54 million dollars, the chemical division of British Petroleum in Hythe, 110 kilometers southeast of London.

From the growth of this project, Ratcliffe created his company, Ineos, in 1998, which in just over two decades has become a giant of the chemical industry: it currently employs around 19,000 people worldwide, produces fuels and lubricants, containers for food, building materials, plastics, acids and Styrofoam, and even supplies natural gas to some homes.

Not satisfied with his business in those universes, the tycoon, who in June 2018 received the title of Knight of the British Empire “for his services to business and investments”, ventured into the field of sport. Since December 2017, he has owned the Swiss club Lausanne and the French Nice from August 2019; It also owns the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team (seven-time Tour de France winners under the Team Sky name), and is also a sponsor and one-third shareholder of the Mercedes Formula 1 team.

Father of three children – two from his first marriage and one from his second -, the businessman has a residence on the Côte d’Azur and usually indulges in some extravagant tastes. He made expeditions to the North Pole and the South Polespent three months in South Africa on a motorcycle trip and in 2011 invested $160 million in Hampshire II, a 78-metre long yacht with capacity for 14 guests and 23 crew members, which has six cabins, a swimming pool on one of the decks, jacuzzi, sauna, cinema, beach club and a helipad which can be transformed into a sports area for playing tennis, badminton, basketball, baseball or soccer.

He also owns four private jets and an impressive fleet of cars. He is a lover of 4×4 vehicles, to the point that he has financed the production of his own line of trucks to compete with the British company Land Rover: the Ineos Projekt Grenadier, which will soon be on the market and will cost around $59,000.

With this resume in tow, Radcliffe will attempt to acquire the share package of Manchester United, a club of which he is recognized as a fan. It won’t be his first flirt in this sense, given that last August he had already planted the flag. “We confirm interest in the club if it goes on sale,” announced one of his spokesmen. But then the operation was unsuccessful.

Radcliffe’s emotional connection to United didn’t stop the tycoon from making an offer to stay with Chelsea in May last year. When Roman Abramovich, harassed by economic sanctions resulting from the war between Russia and Ukraine, tried to find a buyer, the British entrepreneur made an offer of 4,250 million pounds, which was rejected. The London club was finally acquired by the American holding Eldridge, whose main shareholder and CEO is the magnate Todd Boehly.

Source: Clarin

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