With one of England’s most-storied soccer clubs on the brink of a sale to an English billionaire, several marquee U.S. hedge funds stand to make some serious money.
Jim Ratcliffe’s much-anticipated purchase of a controlling stake in Manchester United is expected to close in the coming days, valuing the club at $5.5 billion. It brings to an end the deeply unpopular reign of the Glazer family and provides profits for anyone holding shares of Man United stock. Despite all of this happening “Across The Pond,” profits from the deal have clearly translated to some of America’s biggest asset managers.
Famed investor Leon Cooperman recently disclosed a new position in MANU stock. The outspoken octogenarian was piling into a trade that, according to recent regulatory filings, reads like a who’s who of American hedge funds.
Point72 Asset Management, Tudor Investment, Ariel Investments, Gabelli Funds, ExodusPoint Capital, Millennium Management, D.E. Shaw & Co., Balyasny Asset Management, TwoSigma Management, BlackRock, and Citadel LLC, are all invested in MANU. That means that almost every famous hedge fund manager in America — including billionaires Steve Cohen, Paul Tudor Jones and Ken Griffin — netted a tidy profit last week when the stock popped by more than 10% on news that the deal with Ratcliffe would close.
MANU is so popular amongst hedge fund managers, in fact, that it appears to be one of the precious few things on which Millennium’s Izzy Englander and his former mentee-turned-rival, ExodusPoint’s Michael Gelband, can agree.
“It’s definitely a little crowded in there,” said a portfolio manager at one of the funds, referring to the volume of blue chip interest. “But the stock was down 30% since the summer and now it’s about to trade, so I’d have a hard time justifying to clients why I wasn’t in the stock.”
But how long those billionaires stick around after the 71-year-old chairman and CEO of INEOS chemicals group takes the reins at the club’s hallowed Old Trafford stadium remains to be seen.
In 2005, American billionaire Malcolm Glazer bought a controlling interest in Man United through a highly leveraged deal that forced the club to take on much of the debt, a reality that has plagued the Glazer family’s rule. The Red Devils have not won a domestic title since 2013 and last took home European hardware in 2017. Rioting fans quite literally stormed the gates of Old Trafford in 2021, demanding that the Glazers sell.
Should Ratcliffe bring winning ways back to the red side of Manchester, he will put smiles back on the faces of fans … and maybe American billionaires.