United stock flotation kicks off
Manchester United are set to kick off their stock market flotation in a move which could value the club at more than £2billion.
The club, bought by the Glazer family in 2005 for about £800million, will offer 16.7million shares, equal to a 10 per cent stake, which are set to price later at between 16 and 20 US dollars (£10-12) before listing on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.
United, who claim to have a global fanbase of about 660million and have won a record 19 English league titles, would be valued at £2.1billion at the top range, making it one of the world's most valuable sports teams.
The US-based Glazer family, which is set to make about £90million from the flotation, failed to garner sufficient demand in previous efforts to sell shares on exchanges in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Analysts at data provider Morningstar told the Financial Times that 10 US dollars (£6) a 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 per cent of the shares available but only carrying voting rights of 1.3 per cent. Earlier this month, a leading Manchester United fans' group called for a boycott of the club's expanding portfolio of sponsors in protest at the planned flotation.
A statement from the Manchester United Supporters Trust (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 £100 million barrier for commercial revenue alone.
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