Manchester United’s outspoken new investor Leon Cooperman made a £2.25billion fortune on Wall Street, believes Donald Trump ‘belongs in jail’ and said anti-Israel students at his old college have ‘s*** for brains’
- Billionaire hedge fund owner Cooperman, 80, has bought £13.5m United stake
- It comes as Sir Jim Ratcliffe closes in on his £1.3bn buyout of a 25 per cent stake
- It’s a three-team title race… Toney could lead Arsenal to glory: It’s All Kicking Off
Manchester United’s new billionaire investor Leon Cooperman certainly isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
The long-standing Republican donor recently described Donald Trump as ‘a divisive human being who belongs in jail’.
Cooperman, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, also said students protesting against Israel at his alma mater Colombia Business School have ‘s*** for brains’ and halted donations having given $50million [£40m] over the years.
The 80-year-old – whose wealth is valued by Forbes at $2.8billion [£2.25bn] – is unlikely to be hitting the news networks with such strident views on how Erik ten Hag’s team perform.
But he will expect some return on his reported investment of £13.5m in 929,078 shares in United. For context, there are about 163 million shares in United.
US billionaire Leon Cooperman has reportedly bought almost one million shares in Man United
It comes as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to purchase a 25 per cent stake is nearing completion
United’s Victor Lindelof celebrates scoring the decisive goal against Luton last Saturday
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The surprise news of his investment led to United shares rising 5.1 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday – albeit against the backdrop of a 19.6 per cent fall this year.
It comes as Sir Jim Ratcliffe closes in on his £1.3bn deal to take control of 25 per cent of United from their unpopular American owners, the Glazer family.
Much of the collapse in United’s value has occurred after the Glazers rejected the £5.5bn bid from Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani for a complete buyout of the Old Trafford club.
Instead they favoured INEOS billionaire Ratcliffe’s bid for partial control with a focus on football operations following a long-winded and tiresome process that began last November.
At the same time, the Glazers have invited more modest investments from various hedge funds in exchange for small stakes in United.
Filings on the stock exchange have shown Squared Asset Management AG and Antara Capital among those acquiring small stakes.
Another hedge fund, Eminence Capital, is currently the third-largest shareholder in the club, according to Bloomberg.
We can now add Cooperman’s Omega Advisors, the New York-based private investment partnership he created after 25 years working for Goldman Sachs. Omega has a reported net worth of more than £2bn.
United’s hugely unpopular American owners have drained more than £1bn out of the club since their leveraged takeover in 2005 (pictured – Avram Glazer (left) and Joel Glazer (right)
Cooperman, 80, is a former US hedge fund manager and has a net worth of more than £2bn
It remains to be seen what Cooperman puts into United, though the Glazers need capital to make urgent upgrades to crumbling Old Trafford and keep the team competitive on the field.
Bronx-born Cooperman is described as a ‘Wall Street legend’ by Forbes. The first in his family to earn a college degree, he’d later earn an MBA from the prestigious Colombia Business School in 1987.
He immediately landed a role in Goldman’s Investment Research Department before moving into asset management. For nine years straight, he was voted the No 1 portfolio strategist by Institutional Investor magazine.
In a quarter-century with the investment bank, he rose to become general partner in Goldman, Sachs & Co, and the chairman and chief executive of its Asset Management branch.
Cooperman established his hedge fund in 1991, steadily building his fortune.
A Washington Post profile from January 2022 said Cooperman spent at least 183 days per year at his luxury home in Boca Raton, Florida in order to take advantage of the state’s low tax rates for residents.
He could be found sat at his desk from 7am until midnight each day, periodically dialling a private line to his trading desk in New Jersey to see how much money he’d made.
Never short of an opinion, Cooperman said former US president Donald Trump ‘belongs in jail’
Cooperman, the son of two Polish-Jewish immigrants, described students at his alma mater Colombia University of having ‘s*** for brains’ over pro-Palestine protests on campus
Pro-Palestine demonstrators gather for a protest at Columbia University earlier this month
Meanwhile, there was a custom-made infinity pool outside that he’d never swam in. ‘I don’t want to say it’s all play money at this point, but what else could I possibly spend it on?’ He was quoted as saying.
Cooperman, who met his wife Toby in French class at school, likes to see himself as a rags-to-riches story, an embodiment of the ‘American dream’.
He is the son of a plumber’s apprentice who emigrated from Poland aged 13, worked six day weeks and died of a heart attack carrying a sink up flights of stairs. Toby is the daughter of a pillowcase salesman from Romania.
Having inherited very little, Cooperman has taken offence at attempts by liberal politicians like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to cast America’s billionaires as evil villains. He has written them letters probing their motives.
When Warren proposed a wealth tax in 2019, he took to the airwaves to accuse her of ‘s***ing on the f***ing American Dream’.
Bizarrely in 2012, he accused then-president Barack Obama of ‘never working a day in his life’ before running for the White House.
Cooperman took aim at presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (second left) in 2019 after she proposed a wealth tax on billionaires
The billionaire took aim at Barack Obama on several occasions when he was president
He also drew parallels between ‘economically dissatisfied people’ voting for Obama amid the 2008 financial crisis with those who elected Adolf Hitler in bankrupt 1930s Germany.
His distaste of Trump led to him voting ‘ very reluctantly’ for Joe Biden in the last US presidential election despite donating to the Republicans for most of his life.
And Cooperman made very clear he wouldn’t be backing Trump in his bid to return to power next year.
‘It would be terrible for the country if Donald Trump was re-elected. He’s a divisive human being who belongs in jail,’ he told CNN last month.
The unfolding crisis in the Middle-East has seen Cooperman take aim at pro-Palestine students and academics at Colombia Business School.
He demanded they fire Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History professor Joseph Massad, who described Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel on October 7 as ‘awesome’.
United manager Erik ten Hag is under pressure to improve results after a poor start this season
Cooperman said on Fox: ‘We only have one democracy in the Middle East. That’s Israel. And we have one economy tolerant of different people – gays, lesbians, etc. And that’s Israel.
‘So, I have no idea what these young kids are doing. I think these kids at the colleges have s*** for brains.’
His claimed $50m of donations to Colombia are among many philanthropic acts.
In 2010, Cooperman was invited to dinner by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and signed up to their Giving Pledge programme which asks billionaires to donate at least half of their money to charity.
He has given away $150m to a hospital in New Jersey, $50m for college scholarships to Newark high school students, $25m to the Jewish Family Fund and $15m to food banks, among others.
It’s a stretch to imagine such generosity towards Manchester United. It’s not clear whether Cooperman has any interest in soccer or the world’s most famous club.
His £13.5m investment is unlikely to buy much influence but it might lead to a quick buck.
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