United to explore US listing - report
14 Jun 2012
Manchester United has dropped its plan to float a significant stake in the club on the Singapore Stock Exchange in favour of exploring a listing in the United States, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Citing sources with knowledge of the deal, Reuters stated that the Barclays Premier League giant had always planned to position itself as a global media business rather than a sports franchise, meaning that a US listing would make more sense. United’s owners, the Glazer family, are also well known in the US as the owners of National Football League (NFL) franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with their interest in shopping centre developer First Allied Corp.
Reuters adds that a US listing would also tally with United’s proposed dual-class share structure for Singapore, owing to American investors’ familiarity with the concept. The Glazers reportedly wanted to sell Class B shares with limited or no voting rights to maintain a level of control of 95-100%. However, the long delays in approval from the Singapore Exchange are understood to be one of the main reasons behind a change in strategy.
The latest news comes after reports in April that improved market conditions led the Glazers to resume the Singapore plan after postponing it last year due to market volatility. The Glazers were reportedly seeking to raise up to £600 million by selling 25 to 30% of the club via an initial public offering (IPO) that would value it at up to £2 billion. United’s American owners acquired the club for £790 million in 2005 in an agreement that saw it de-listed from the London Stock Exchange. The takeover saddled United with a sizeable debt, which the club’s financial figures for the year ending June 2011 reported at £308.3 million. The flotation was viewed as a method to reduce this debt, which has been a continual source of anger to United fans.