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Qatar Denies Seeking to Acquire Manchester United

Qatar Holding, in a sign that negotiations for the acquisition of storied English soccer club Manchester United are faltering, has denied for the first time that it is in talks with the club’s American owners. Manchester United has repeatedly refuted reports that it was haggling with Qatar Holding, an investment arm of the Gulf state’s royal family, over a sales price for the club. Recent reports suggested that the club’s unpopular owners, the Glazer family and Qatar were £200 million apart with Qatar offering £1.6 billion and the Glazers holding out for £1.8 billion. The Qatari royal family is believed to have balked at the Glazers’ demand, according to a report last week in the British newspaper The Daily Mail, which quoted intermediaries between the two parties. The reports have this week driven Manchester United’s high-yield bonds [MNU.UL] to near record highs. "Qatar Holding is not and has never been in discussions to buy Manchester United football club. There is no truth to the rumors," The Independent newspaper quoted an unidentified source as saying. The Glazers bought Manchester United in 2005 for £790 million pounds. Qatar’s effort to acquire Manchester United is part of the gas-rich Gulf state’s effort to establish itself as global sports hub and a major force in world soccer. Qatar became in December the first Middle Eastern state to win a bid to host a FIFA World Cup. It has since signed a $200 million sponsorship agreement with FC Barcelona and the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Mohammed Bin Hammam, has indicated that he will challenge Sepp Blatter in FIFA presidential elections scheduled for June.

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