De Mol buys more Man Utd.

Murdoch, McManus, Magnier likely takeover candidates

AMSTERDAM — Dutch media mogul John De Mol’s investment company, Talpa, has increased its stake in U.K. soccer team Manchester United from 2.9% to 3.5%. However, company has denied speculation about a hostile takeover of the team.

Talpa exploits global brands across multiple platforms. “Manchester United is a community of 55 million people. The value of that community, the possibilities offered by Internet, mobile telephony, radio and TV, when linked to that brand, is enormous,” said Talpa managing director Frank Botman.

De Mol’s stake increase triggered renewed speculation about a takeover, following rumors on the U.K. stock market that mystery investors were poised to make an offer.

The most likely candidates are Rupert Murdoch-backed satcaster BSkyB, which has a 9.9% stake, and Irish horse-racing tycoons J.P. McManus and John Magnier, who recently increased their stake in the soccer team to 10.37%.

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