LONDON: Britain’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, wants to further expand his sport network by buying French Ligue 1 club Nice after snapping up cycling’s Team Sky last month, his brother revealed to French media on Friday.
Robert Ratcliffe confirmed to the newspaper Nice-Matin that his sibling, the boss of petrochemical giant Ineos, wants to purchase the club following reports of negotiations on Thursday.
“We do not want to buy a club where we have to rebuild everything. There is a magnificent stadium and a brand new training centre,” said Robert Ratcliffe.
He insisted that his brother, a Manchester United fan, “wants to invest in football” and “Ligue 1 has great players like Mbappe and Neymar, some of the best in the world.”
However he said that after initially showing interest in the sale, Nice’s Chinese-American owner Chien Lee pulled away from the offer, reportedly in the region of 100 million euros ($112.3 million).
“He told me he was open to selling … but 24 hours later, we were informed that he did not want to receive any more offers,” Robert Ratcliffe continued.
Brexit-backing billionaire Ratcliffe, 66, has assets worth an estimated £21 billion ($27.8 billion, 24.5 billion euros), placing him top of the 2018 Sunday Times rich list.
He founded Ineos in 1998 and the company went on to become an industrial juggernaut in a country increasingly dominated by the service sector.
The group now has annual sales of $60 billion and employs over 18,000 people in 24 countries.
As well as buying Team Sky last month, Ratcliffe’s group also own Swiss football club Lausanne Sport. Last year they also established Ineos Team UK, which is taking part in the 2021 America’s Cup.
Nice, coached by former France and Arsenal star Patrick Vieira, are currently eighth in Ligue 1 with eight games remaining this season.
Usually in the shadow of their near neighbours Monaco, the club have not won a major trophy since lifting the French Cup in 1997.