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Russians to buy Manchester United..
Shares in Manchester United advanced today as a Russian oil mogul became the latest millionaire to be linked with a bid for the Premiership champions. A report said Ralif Safin, one of the founders of Russia’s largest oil company Lukoil, had contacted a London-based investment bank about a possible offer for the club. Rumours of a move for United by a mystery Russian businessman have circulated in the City for months following the takeover of Chelsea by Roman Abramovich, the Daily Telegraph reported. Shares in the Premiership table-toppers rose 3% to stand 8.25p ahead at 264.25p as the markets added Mr Safin to a list of potential suitors that includes Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer and racing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier. But one analyst played down the likelihood of a firm offer for the club from Mr Safin, whose 20-year-old daughter Alsou is a Russian pop star. Henk Potts, of Barclays stockbrokers, said: “Given how far Manchester United shares have moved this year and considering that the big players have strengthened their positions, Mr Safin would have to pay an absolute fortune to take over the club.” Mr Safin first contacted London bankers several months ago but decided to wait until after Russia’s elections before making a move, according to the report. The results of the poll – which helped allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin – may have dampened his interest, the newspaper added. The City expects any takeover of Manchester United to be launched by either Mr Glazer or Cubic Expression – the investment vehicle of Mr McManus and Mr Magnier. Mr Glazer upped his stake in the club to 14.3% last month while Cubic Expression holds more than 24% after making a number of purchases this year, including buying out the interest of BSkyB. The club is currently valued at just under £700 million after takeover speculation helped shares more than double in the last year. Premiership football clubs are increasingly linked with foreign investors as the amount of money needed to build a title-challenging side escalates. Media reports of an interest in Aston Villa from Venezuelan billionaire Gustavo Cisneros resurfaced last month, while Chinese industrial magnate Xu Ming has been touted as a member of a consortium considering a bid for troubled Leeds United. s
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