The Abu Dhabi United Group – ADUG is a private equity company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It represents the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi royal family owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Minister of Presidential Affairs for the UAE.
The main interest of this group is the ownership of City Football Group which is a worldwide organization that controls some of the most popular clubs around the world such as Manchester City F.C., New York City F.C. and Melbourne City F.C. The group also controls several international football clubs, even though it has interests in other endeavours outside of the sporting world as well.
Primarily it was believed that the Abu Dhabi United Group was a sovereign wealth fund by Abu Dhabi as a part of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. However, Abu Dhabi United Group denied any connection to the government of Abu Dhabi.
City Football Group
The City Football Group was established in the summer of 2008 at the time when Sheikh Mansour was interested in taking over Manchester City Football Club from the owner Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister of Thailand. The deal was signed on 1 September 2008, and the ownership agreement was finally completed twenty days later.
At the time, the public face and the spokesman for the ADUG was the US-educated businessman Sulaiman Al-Fahim. He was often referred to as “the Donald Trump of Abu Dhabi.” Once the completion of the takeover was done Al-Fahim attracted the great attention in the football world with his ideas of extravagant spending plans that will bring the world’s greatest football talents to his new team.
nfortunately, the club soon became the target of the media as well as the players which Dr. Al-Fahim was interested in bringing. Even though he successfully brought the Brazilian star Robinho from Real Madrid on the very same day when the club was taken over, after just one week Dr. Al-Fahim was stripped of his control and removed from the position. He was replaced by the calm and reserved figure, Khaldoon Al-Mubarak. Al-Mubarak is considered to be one of the most trusted advisers of the royal family. As a result, he remained the chairman of Manchester City F.C. up to the present day.
In 2011, three years after the club came into the possession of ADUG, Manchester City won the FA Cup and qualified for the Champions League. This way the club presented its first success in over three decades and with the support of ADUG. A year later, the club won the Premier League which was their first league title in forty-four years.
Following the success of the Manchester City and with the desire to repeat the story with another club, ADUG began investing in other football teams. Founding of the MSL in North America was the great opportunity for ADUG. They bought New York City FC as well as the A-League franchise Melbourne Heart FC. The former club was soon after renamed to Melbourne City FC. They were convinced that it was necessary to develop a new infrastructure in order to manage these various worldwide football projects around the world, and also keep them away from other non-football business. For that reason, in 2014 ADUG created the City Football Group. Their main goal was to supervise all of the teams which are under control of ADUG. They were developed to act as holding the company to the football teams and businesses designed to market football services on the market. In the same way, ADUG also became the holding company for CFG.
Other Business Interests
Abu Dhabi United Group also has a large property portfolio in the UAE and abroad as well. Besides Manchester City F.C., ADUG has accumulated investments of total £1 billion in Manchester. These investments were mainly spent on property and higher education sectors. Apart from buying properties for their own control, they also signed a ten-year partnership with Manchester City Council to restore the east end of the city, which is the area where Manchester City is based. As a result, the Manchester Life Development Company was created with the goal to build 6,000 affordable houses in the area.