Ratcliffe could be forced to divest ManU stake under some conditions

(Reuters) -Manchester United said it could coerce Jim Ratcliffe under certain circumstances to divest his ownership in the British soccer club at least 18 months after the billionaire closes his acquisition of a 25% stake in the company.

It made the disclosure in a regulatory filing on Tuesday, but did not specify the circumstances.

Manchester United’s filing also said that for three years after the tycoon’s deal closes any potential sale of the club solicited by its American owners, the Glazer family, will need to fetch at least $33 per share for Ratcliffe.

A spokesperson for Manchester United did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside normal business hours.

On Sunday, Ratcliffe’s INEOS Group struck a deal to buy 25% interest in Manchester United at $33 per share. The deal valued the 20-time English champions at $6.3 billion including debt, a source familiar with the matter said.

The company’s shares closed up 3.4% on Tuesday, as the agreement cleared months of uncertainty over a deal that fans and investors hoped would revitalize the British soccer club.

Under the deal, INEOS will also manage Manchester United’s soccer operations after the Glazer family’s long-time ownership came under fire for the club’s poor performance over the past decade.

Manchester United’s stock has surged about 52% after the Glazers announced in November last year that they were exploring strategic options, including a sale, for the club.

Since former manager Alex Ferguson stepped down in 2013, the club has seen five permanent managers and three caretakers but has failed to recapture its glory days, winning just four trophies in 11 years.

Ratcliffe’s INEOS Sport owns France’s OGC Nice, which stands second in Ligue 1 only behind Paris Saint-Germain, majority-owned by investment fund Qatar Sports Investments.

INEOS also owns FC Lausanne-Sport, which is in the relegation-threatened tenth position in the Swiss Super League.

Manchester United has been knocked out of European competitions and are eighth in the Premier League table despite heavy investments over the past several years to bring in popular players.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Muralikumar Anantharaman)