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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Q&A: Shareholder shake-up under Glazer
A Manchester United fan protesting against Malcolm Glazer's takeover of the club
Opponents plan to be a thorn in the side of Mr Glazer

US sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer has finally succeeded in his goal of owning 75% of Manchester United - enabling him to take complete control of the company.

But he doesn't own all of the club's shares yet. What can minority shareholders in the world's richest football team expect next?

Anything but a quiet life.

Malcolm Glazer's controversial takeover of Manchester United has attracted intense media and public scrutiny.

Those still holding shares in the former English Premiership champions can no longer stop Mr Glazer taking charge at Old Trafford, but they can - at least for now - influence how the company is run.

And that means the story of Mr Glazer's rise to prominence at United isn't quite over yet.

What will Mr Glazer's next step be?

As the owner of 75% of United's shares, Mr Glazer now has the dominant voice on the club's board.

There isn't a great deal you can do if you're a dissenting shareholder
Richard Hunter, Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers

He can take United private - delisting its shares from the London Stock Exchange - and even rewrite the company's articles.

The millions of pounds previously used to pay dividends on shares could be used to service the club's debts.

At this stage, a Glazer-run United would still be expected to hold an annual general meeting, which could provide a focus for those bitterly opposed to his takeover.

Mr Glazer could silence those critics if he makes a formal offer to buy the shares he does not already own.

Should he manage to buy 90% of those shares, then a compulsory buyout would be triggered and anyone holding United equity would be obliged to sell to him.

Is this likely to happen?

Possibly. Mr Glazer secured his controlling interest through a 227.2m, 3-a-share offer to United's two previous biggest shareholders, Irish racing tycoons JP MacManus and John Magnier.

He later secured the shares of Scottish mining entrepreneur Harry Dobson.

The terms of his offer are valid for the remainder of United's shareholders.

And who are they?

A mixed bag of smaller private investors and passionate Manchester United fans, for the most part.

In figures: the business that is Manchester United

"In these situations there are usually a few 'rump' shareholders who, for whatever reason, don't feel they should agree with the takeover," says Richard Hunter, of Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers.

"They become dissenting shareholders, but there isn't much they can do."

Pressure group Shareholders United failed in their attempt to form a group representing 25% of shareholders - a bloc of that size could have been used to halt Mr Glazer's takeover plans.

Many of those who have not actively pursued Mr Glazer's 3-a-share bid are likely to accept it when they receive letters offering to buy their shares, Mr Hunter believes.

What can United's dissenting shareholders expect?

A life on the sidelines, at least as far as running the company is concerned.

"There isn't a great deal you can do if you're a dissenting shareholder," says Mr Hunter, adding that if Mr Glazer manages to force a compulsory buyout then those dissenting shareholders would lose their voice completely.

However, die-hard opponents of Mr Glazer - who are prepared to write off their investment in the company - may be content to remain "a thorn in the side" of the American billionaire, according to one independent sports consultant.

Some analysts believe that Mr Glazer may pause for a breath, rather than strong-arm his way through to full ownership of United.

"He's going to play it very cautiously to start with. There are too many corners of the UK where he's not popular," says Mr Hunter.

Popular or not, in Malcolm Glazer, Manchester United has only one shareholder to answer to now.


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