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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Glazer stake in Man Utd nears 30%
United fans demonstrate against Glazer outside the London Stock Exchange
Fans have been vocal in their opposition to Glazer
US sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer has snapped up a further 1.27 million shares in Manchester United - taking his stake ever closer to the 30% mark.

Late on Monday, Mr Glazer spent 17m ($31m) on boosting his holding in the famous football club to 27.63%, the latest purchase raises that to 28.11%.

The buy, confirmed by his banking advisor JP Morgan, could mean he is seeking to take control of the club.

If his stake does hit the 30% mark, it would trigger a full takeover bid.

Under UK takeover law, anyone who owns a 30% stake in a company is obliged to make an offer for the rest of the company at the price at which they bought their last tranche of shares.

Shares in the Premiership club closed 1.5p down at 283.5p following news of Mr Glazer's purchase.

Mr Glazer snapped up his latest tranche of shares at a price of 285p a share - or a total of 3.6m.

The move comes after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner splashed out 45m ($81m) on Friday to buy 15.4 million shares.

'Destabilising'

Mr Glazer's latest share purchase puts him within touching distance of Irish businessmen John Magnier and JP McManus, who own 28.9% of the club through their Cubic Expression investment vehicle.

GLAZER FACTFILE
1928: Born in Rochester, NY
1943: Inherits father's watch business
1950-90 Makes fortune via series of ambitious investments
1995: Buys Tampa Bay Buccaneers for $190m
2003: Bucs win Super Bowl and are valued at $671m
2003: Fails in bid to buy LA Dodgers. Ups stake in Man Utd
2004: Raises Man Utd stake five times before most recent purchase takes stake to 28.11%

News of Mr Glazer's latest share purchase has not gone down well with Manchester United supporters groups who have spent the last fortnight campaigning fiercely against him taking over the club.

Members of the influential Shareholders United (SU) group also believe the volatility in the share price caused by Glazer's actions is destabilising and contributing to the "siege mentality" at Old Trafford.

"This affair cannot but be damaging to the business of the company and harmful to the interests of Shareholders United members as well as other shareholders in the company," SU chairman Nick Towle said.

Possible deadline

In an open letter to Manchester United chief executive David Gill, they have asked him to tell the London Stock Exchange's Takeover Panel to order Mr Glazer to clarify his intentions.

Malcolm Glazer
Will he, won't he? Glazer keeps the market guessing

If instructed to do so by the club, the Takeover Panel could impose a deadline on Mr Glazer to make a formal bid. If Mr Glazer could not meet this deadline, he would be prevented from making another offer for six months.

What remains uncertain is the position of Mr Magnier and Mr McManus, and whether Mr Glazer can persuade them to back any takeover he makes.

Talks between the two sides broke down on Friday.




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