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Former Nokia executive Thomas Zilliacus bid for Manchester United

24. 03. 2023 Friday / By: Robert Denes / Business / Exact time: BST / Print this page

T homas Zilliacus, a Finnish entrepreneur in the running to buy Manchester United, is a former Nokia executive who claims to have made his fortune in the Asian technology sector.

Little known in his native Finland before throwing his hat into the ring on Thursday, the 69-year-old Singapore resident is a passionate soccer fan, former hockey membership owner and founder and chairman of technology finance group Cellular. FutureWorks Inc (MFW).

MFW, which is an unlisted company, says it builds companies in areas ranging from social media to online expense firms, esports, streaming video and actual real estate.

"The companies controlled by MFW operate and operate in an additional 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, where it has a controlling stake in more than 150 companies," according to its website.

These companies have "a combined market of more than $3 billion," it said, a statement that is difficult to independently support.

According to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Mr. Zilliacus mentioned that he built his wealth "from real property, stocks and personal companies."

He will face opposition in his bid for United, as British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, chairman of the Qatar Islamic Financial Institution, are also involved in the takeover of the Premier League giants.

Mr. Zilliacus's lifelong love of sports is well-documented - he played soccer as a boy and, reportedly, right away when he was hanging out at Brazil's FC Fluminense academy.

He was previously co-owner of Jokerit, Finland's largest hockey golf outfit, and president of the football department of HJK in Finland.

He was involved in student politics at Helsinki College and started at Nokia in 1980, where he became a global communications leader. A few years later, despite this, he co-founded a model company at Nokia.

In addition, in the late 1990s he co-founded Hartwall Enviornment, the biggest live act in Helsinki square.

The Finn moved to Singapore, where he became head of the mobile phone company's Asia-Pacific business, staying with the agency until the mid-1990s.

In 1998, he decided to focus on know-how under the banner of Helsingin Sanomat.

His social media company, Yuuzoo, was listed in Singapore in 2014, but trading was suspended 4 years later.

Mr. Zilliacus is promising fans of Manchester United, the 20-time English champions, the opportunity to personally earn $50 for membership.

“My offer is based on equality with followers,” he mentioned.

"My group will fund half of the membership and ask followers to contribute the other half through an entirely new company."

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