Manchester United owners revive US$1 bil IPO plan - report


LONDON (Reuters) - The American owners of English Premier League soccer champions Manchester United have reactivated an earlier plan to float its shares on the stock market in Singapore following improved market conditions, the Sunday Times reported.

The Florida-based Glazer family is looking to raise up to 600 million pounds by selling 25 to 30 percent of the club via an initial public offering that would value it at up to 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion), the newspaper said.

A spokesman for Manchester United said, "We don't comment on this sort of speculation".

Manchester United had eyed a $1 billion floatation in Singapore last year but shelved it due to market volatility, a source close to the IPO told Reuters in September.

In recent months, bankers have told Reuters they expect the deal to be revived this year. Formula One motor racing is also reported to be looking at floating in Singapore this year.

United won the English league title for a record 19th time last season and are top of the table again in the closing weeks of the current campaign.

However, a vocal group of fans have criticised the Glazers for loading the club up with too much debt. The Glazers bought United in 2005 and also own NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The independent Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) said a floatation would be one way of trying to allow fans to build up a meaningful stake in the club.

"If they are coming back with the same sort of inflated valuation and the same sort of proposal, including non-voting shares, then they should expect the same negative response from the market as last time," said MUST Chief Executive Duncan Drasdo.

"If instead they have learned their lesson and decide to offer a substantial proportion of full voting shares at a reasonable valuation and this is a pre-cursor to a full sale, then this could be enthusiastically welcomed by United supporters worldwide," he added.

English soccer is widely followed around the globe, and a survey by Forbes magazine estimated that United had as many as 333 million fans.

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