Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Manchester United doesn't see anticipated rush to buy stock in the team

NEW YORK — Soccer club Manchester United made a disappointing debut Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, even after opening at a discounted price, with enthusiasm for the celebrated team overshadowed by its debt load and financial track record.

Many had expected that fans of one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world would snap up shares, leading to a pop in early trading, but that didn't materialize. Some analysts had warned that the initial public offering was overvalued, particularly since the club is debt-ridden and the family that owns it, the Glazers, retained almost total voting control over the team. The Glazers also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"There was a lot of wing flapping, but not much flying today," said John Fitzgibbon, the founder of IPOScoop.com.

Manchester United PLC's shares ended the day's trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $14, unchanged from the level they were priced at by the offer's underwriters late Thursday.

The share price valued the club at $2.3 billion, slightly higher than the record $2 billion paid for the Los Angeles Dodgers this year.

The 134-year-old English Premier League soccer club expects to make $110.3 million from its offering of 8.3 million shares. It will use $101.7 million to pay down senior notes. The Glazer family is selling 8.3 million more shares separately.

The family's 2005 leveraged takeover was valued at $1.47 billion, much of it borrowed. United carried $666.2 million in debt as of March 31. It had no debt when it was bought by the Glazer family in 2005.

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