KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian billionaire Tan Sri Vincent Tan is exploring an intial public offering (IPO) of UK football team Cardiff City for as early as this year, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, in a deal that would follow the team’s recent promotion to the Premier League.
A listing for the Welsh team would follow Manchester United’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange last year, which raised US$233.2mil (RM707.65mil) in the largest sports team IPO ever.
The process was in its early stages, the people said, with details on the timing, size and listing venue subject to change. Tan, who owns 36.1% of the club and is the former chairman of conglomerate Berjaya Group, has engaged at least one investment bank to lead the process, according to the people.
The initial plan was to list the club on Bursa Malaysia, one of the people said. The deal might be completed as early as this year, another person said.
Tan was unavailable for comment. He is Malaysia’s 10th richest person with a net worth of US$1.3bil, according to Forbes. Malaysia’s IPO market, normally among Asia’s quietest, sprung to life last year with several multi-billion-dollar listings, lifting the Kuala Lumpur exchange to rank No. 4 globally for new listing proceeds.
Cardiff City was promoted to the English Premier League last month after a 51-year absence. Its recent fortunes run counter to another team owned by a Malaysian.
Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia Bhd, saw his Queens Park Rangers relegated from the Premier League in what he called a “tragic” season.
Promotion to the Premier League is estimated to be worth at least £120mil (US$181mil) to clubs over the next five years because of access to a share of lucrative television rights deals.
Cardiff were on the brink of administration and escaped a winding-up petition at the High Court in 2010 after settling a £1.9mil tax bill. Tan has sought to increase the club’s marketability, especially in Asia, although his decision to change their traditional blue kit to red sparked controversy.
Nicknamed the Bluebirds, having played in blue for over 100 years, Cardiff now have a red badge featuring a dragon.
Although revenues will rise, clubs like Cardiff will need to invest heavily in new players to ensure that they are competitive in the Premier League. — Reuters
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