Manchester United Said to Consider Moving Stock Sale to U.S. –

Manchester United Said to Consider Moving Stock Sale to U.S. –

Nader Nazemi

LONDON — Manchester United may have fallen short of a 20th English soccer championship last month, but the United States stock market is emerging as a new goal.
The soccer club is considering an initial public offering in the United States instead of Singapore, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The move follows a flurry of I.P.O.’s that have been postponed or canceled across Asia.
But the offering plans remain at an early stage, and no final decision has been set, these people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The club’s bookrunner team has consisted of Credit SuisseJPMorgan Chase andMorgan Stanley, but that makeup may change, these people said.
Manchester United and the banks declined to comment.
The club, whose American owner, Malcolm Glazer, also controls the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team, had been hoping to raise around $1 billion in previous efforts in Asia. Any move would come as a surprise, given the team’s broad fan base across the continent and its owner’s desire to tap into the region’s fast-expanding investor base.
Last year, Manchester United reported revenue of 367 million euros, or $462 million, according to the consulting firm Deloitte. The club, which had been listed on the London Stock Exchange, before Mr. Glazer’s acquisition in 2005, currently bears $684 million of debt tied to that buyout.
Analysts say one potential reason for the I.P.O.’s move to the United States could be Mr. Glazer’s effort to keep control of Manchester United even after the stock sale.
Under a dual-class share structure, Manchester United may issue nonvoting shares, or stock with lesser voting rights, which would allow the current owners to maintain control of the soccer club.
That desire to maintain control of the club was part of the reason Manchester United switched to Singapore from its first choice, Hong Kong. Singapore is regarded as more open to the use of two stock classes.
“A dual-share structure may fly with investors in the U.S., but could never be pulled off in London or Hong Kong,” said a leading capital markets player, who declined to comment because Manchester United is a client.

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