Manchester United picks NYSE for IPO


  • Business
  • Thursday, 05 Jul 2012

BANGALORE: Manchester United Ltd picked the New York Stock Exchange to make its market debut, ending months of speculation over where the world’s best-supported soccer club would list.

The former English soccer champions pulled a planned US$1bil listing in Singapore because of market turmoil. It had earlier eyed a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO).

Thomson Reuters publication IFR reported last month that the football club had dropped its plans for an Asian listing in favour of a US listing.

Manchester United has a global fan base of 659 million, according to a survey commissioned by the club and carried out last year by market researcher Kantar.

Almost half of United’s supporters were in Asia-Pacific.

“It remains to be seen how much the football club is going to benefit in the United States where the sport is not very popular ... The perfect place for it to have listed should have been London,” Jay Ritter, a University of Florida IPO expert said.

The club, founded in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR Football Club, plays its home games at Old Trafford in Greater Manchester.

The club’s American proprietors, the Glazer family, are well known in the United States as owners of American football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, they have faced opposition from United fans after taking over the club in 2005 in a leveraged buyout that left it saddled with hefty debt repayments.

The club’s total debt as on March 31 was £423.3mil (US$663.67mil), according to the filing.

It intends to use the net proceeds from this offering to repay debt.

“It is going to come down to the valuation. US investors are not going to jump on it right away,” said Josef Schuster, founder of Chicago-based financial services firm IPOX Schuster LLC.

Manchester United filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday to raise up to US$100mil in an IPO of its Class A ordinary shares.

The Glazer family will hold class B shares, which will have 10 votes each, representing 67% of the voting power of all shareholders, effectively keeping the club’s management within its control.

Jefferies, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Securities were underwriting the IPO, Manchester United said in a preliminary prospectus. This leaves out Morgan Stanley, which was one of the investment banks originally expected to underwrite the Singapore listing.

The filing did not reveal how many shares it plans to sell or their expected price.

The amount of money a company says it plans to raise in its first IPO filings is used to calculate registration fees. The final size of the IPO could be different. – Reuters

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