Don’t copy Man United

27 October 2004

Midlands business owners have been warned not to copy the example of Manchester United when tackling with prospective buyers.

The lingering saga surrounding the football club has been lead by American tycoon Malcolm Glazer.

Malcolm Winston, senior partner at our Birmingham office has said it has put the issue of takeovers, MBO’s and deals on the back pages, front pages and pink pages:

“Although things were probably handled professionally behind the scenes, the perception outside Old Trafford is that of confusion. Deals shrouded in mystery not only upset employees but also customers. United can afford to be less gracious with their customers because they are loyal fans. Their custom isn’t going to be transferred over to Manchester City.

“In the real world if customers don’t like the way a business is being run they’ll turn to a competitor. Marks & Spencer is a classic example. The power struggle between Rose and Green has really taken its toll on an already ailing business still losing value.

“Of course there are confidentiality issues, especially when dealing with a listed company, but smaller businesses can do better than taking tips from the way the Man United deal has unfolded.”

“Attaching the right value to your company is just as important as doing the deal at the right time. Preparing staff, customers and suppliers for a difference is essential. Many owner managers stay on in some capacity to ensure a smooth transition of power. Finding the right buyer is also critical. Getting it wrong can lead to muddy situations like the one at Old Trafford.”

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