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FB Roundup: Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the Harris family, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

In this week’s FB Roundup, Sir Jim Ratcliffe shows interest in buying Manchester United; the Harris family finalise a £300 million Butlins deal; and tributes are paid to veteran investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe interested in buying Manchester United football club
Lifelong Manchester United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe is said to be interested in buying the Premier League team following reports that its current owners, the Glazer family, may be considering selling a minority stake in the club.

The British billionaire, who has a net worth of $7.18 billion, is the current chairman and chief executive of chemical company Ineos and owns cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, French Ligue 1 football team Nice and Swiss club FC Lausanne-Sport.

Ratcliffe, who was unsuccessful in his last-minute £4.25 billion bid to buy premiership team Chelsea in May this year, is looking to form a consortium with ex-United team members and Sir Dave Brailsford, a former performance director at British Cycling.

“If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership,” an Ineos spokesperson said to The Times.

“This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent. Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.”

Bloomberg reports that The Glazer family, who have owned United since 2005, are not ready to concede their controlling stake, but United fans are unhappy with the club's ownership model and recent poor performance on the pitch - having not won a Premier League title in nine years.

The club did not comment on the story but the Manchester United Supporters' Trust said: “Speculation is mounting about a potential change of ownership or new investors at Manchester United.

“Whilst supporters have called for change, of course this has to be the right change. Any prospective new owner or investor has to be committed to the culture, ethos and best traditions of the club.

“They have to be willing to invest to restore United to former glories, and that investment must be real new money spent on the playing side and the stadium.”

The Harris family, founders of Bourne Leisure, finalising £300 million Butlin’s deal
The founding family of one of Britain's biggest leisure empires is signing a £300 million deal to regain control of UK holiday camp chain Butlin's.

According to Sky News, the Harris family, which helped to establish Bourne Leisure in the 1960s, is close to signing an agreement with Butlin’s current owners, the American private equity firm Blackstone.

The bid, which is being spearheaded by family member Paul Harris, comes 18 months after they sold Bourne Leisure to Blackstone for more than £3 billion.

The sale of the three holiday camps – sited at Skegness, Minehead and Bognor Regis – had attracted interest from a variety of financial bidders, including Bain Capital, Epiris, TDR Capital, Terra Firma Capital Partners, leisure group Parkdean Resorts and Britain's biggest high-street chemist Boots.

However, Bourne Leisure, which had previously owned Butlin's and its sister brands Haven Holidays and Warner Hotels, is now in pole position to regain the much-loved holiday camps.

Butlin's, which was established by Billy Butlin in 1936, operated from nine sites across the UK in its heyday, entertaining one million holidaymakers each year.

The chain’s fortunes waned with the growth of affordable foreign holiday travel, but it has enjoyed a post-pandemic resurgence with the staycation boom.

Tributes paid to veteran investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led tributes to billionaire stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, who has recently died in Mumbai.

Nicknamed India’s own Warren Buffet, Jhunjhunwala had an estimated net worth of around $5.8 billion (according to Forbes) and was one of a generation of investors who benefitted from the historic economy-revitalising 1991 reforms.

“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable. Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world,” said Prime Minister Modi. “He was also very passionate about India’s progress. His passing away is saddening.”

“He was very good at reading businesses and had conviction, passion and very blunt opinions about things,” said leading broker Motilal Oswal.

“[He was an] investor and bold risk taker, [with a] masterly understanding of the stock market,” said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a tweet. “[I] fondly remember several conversations we’ve had. [He] had strong belief in India’s strength and capabilities.”

Jhunjhunwala, who was the son of an income tax officer, became fascinated with stocks as a child after watching his father balance his market investments and began investing in the stock market in 1985 when he was 25 years old with a $100 loan from a relative.

He had the reputation of being a risk-taker in his investments, with Forbes saying in a 2021 profile that Jhunjhunwala “Acquired his legendary Midas touch by picking winning stocks”.

“[He was] a young middle-class boy rising up the ranks to build such a vast fortune and setting the stage for the growth momentum in the Indian financial markets,” market veteran Ajay Bagga said to the BBC. “He personified the India story.”

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