Sunday, December 17, 2017
Business

Manchester United soccer club files for IPO in U.S.

NEW YORK — Manchester United plans to go public. In the United States, to boot.

The record 19-time English champions filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday to hold an initial public offering of stock and become a listed company on the New York Stock Exchange.

While the stock price and the number of shares were not listed, the registration statement said the club hoped to raise a maximum of $100 million.

The Glazer family, which also owns the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and bought the soccer club in 2005, would retain control over the club through Class B shares, which would have 10 times the voting power of the shares that would be sold to the public.

Under the reorganization, the team would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Manchester United Ltd., a newly formed holding company based in the Cayman Islands.

The team was listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1991 until June 2005, when Malcolm Glazer completed a leveraged buyout valued at $1.47 billion.

United has been looking to raise funds to help reduce debts from the 2005 takeover that were $663 million as of March 31.

A $1 billion offering on the Singapore stock market was pursued last year, but the plans were halted due to volatile global markets.

The team, European champions in 1968, 1999 and 2009, has been valued at $2.24 billion by Forbes magazine, ranking it as soccer's most valuable club for the eighth year in a row in April. The Red Devils were on track to their 20th league title this year, taking an eight-point lead in the final weeks of the season. But crosstown rival Manchester City won the title on goal difference on the final day of the season.

Some warnings were included in the filing, with the team saying "our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial health and competitive position" and "recently approved UEFA restrictions could negatively affect our business."

European soccer's governing body is phasing in spending restrictions over several seasons, known as Financial Fair Play.

Several other Premier League teams have U.S. owners, including Arsenal (controlled by Stan Kroenke), Liverpool (by the parent company of the Boston Red Sox), Aston Villa (Randy Lerner) and Sunderland (Ellis Short).

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