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Manchester United stock flotation begins

Published: August 10, 2012 | 7:57 am
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Manchester United have kicked off their stock market flotation in a move which values the club at around £1.5billion.

The club, bought by the Glazer family in 2005 for about £800million, yesterday offered 16.7m shares – equal to a 10% stake – at a price of 14 US dollars (around £9) each before listing on the New York Stock Exchange today.

A press release last night read: “Manchester United (NYSE: MANU) today announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 16,666,667 class A ordinary shares at a price of 14.00 US dollars per share.

“The class A ordinary shares will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and will trade under the symbol ‘MANU’ beginning on August 10, 2012.

“Manchester United is offering 8,333,334 class A ordinary shares and the selling shareholder is offering 8,333,333 class A ordinary shares.

“The underwriters have an option to purchase up to an additional 2,500,000 class A ordinary shares from the selling shareholder.”

A leading Red Devils fans group, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), labelled news of the share price “a massive, humiliating blow for the Glazers” after indications the figure would be between 16 and 20 US dollars.

The US-based Glazer family failed to garner sufficient demand in previous efforts to sell shares on exchanges in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Analysts at data provider Morningstar earlier told the Financial Times that 10 US dollars (£6) per share would be a fair value, adding: “Shares could trade at a significant premium to our fair value estimate if the market values the soccer team in line with other successful sports franchises.”

The remaining proceeds raised in the initial public offering (IPO) will be used to pay down some of the 134-year-old club’s debt, which was last reported to be around £423million.

Although the listing has been planned for some time, the Glazer family originally claimed all the proceeds would go towards United’s debt, angering fans.

A successful IPO would reportedly result in investors owning 42% of the shares available but only carrying voting rights of 1.3%.

Earlier this month, the MUST called for a boycott of the club’s expanding portfolio of sponsors in protest at the planned flotation.

A statement from the MUST read: “The Manchester United Supporters Trust has today called for a worldwide boycott of Manchester United sponsors’ products, with support across the UK, Europe, Asia and the US.

“The boycott strategy is intended to send a loud and clear message to the Glazer family and club sponsors that, without the support and purchasing power of the fans, the global strength of the Manchester United brand doesn’t actually exist.”

MUST have tried such tactics before during the Glazer regime, although it has not prevented the Red Devils’ territory-specific approach allowing them to become the first club to smash through the annual £100million barrier for commercial revenue alone.


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