Business of Sport
Man U tap Asian fan base
London - Manchester United’s mooted partial stock market flotation in the Far East is targeted towards the club’s huge Asian fan base, according to a financial expert.
Owners of the Barclays Premier League champions, the Glazer family, are planning to reduce their stake in the club, according to widespread reports on Tuesday.
It is believed that an initial public offering (IPO) could raise $1 billion for a 25% to 30% stake in the club with the flotation viewed as a method to reduce United’s sizeable debt, which has been a continual source of concern for their fans.
Although United have refused to comment on the reports it is believed a listing on either the Singapore or larger Hong Kong Stock Exchange could be approved by the end of the year.
The Florida-based Glazer family acquired United for £790 million in 2005 in an agreement that saw the club de-listed from the London Stock Exchange. While the Glazers reportedly plan to remain in control at Old Trafford, a partial flotation would reduce the club’s debt, which exceeds £500 million.
United has an estimated 333 million fans globally and more than 190 million in Asia – a key factor according to Stephen Schechter, chairman of London-based investment bank Schechter Co. “Obviously the leverage has been bothering the Glazers so they want to use whatever cash they get in to get a return for themselves on capital, to reduce leverage and to give Manchester United cash to go out and buy players,” he told The Associated Press.
Referring to the club’s Asian fan base, Schechter added: “They will pay a higher price to say they own a piece of Manchester United. Clearly the UK market would be receptive to Manchester United, but the listing requirements would require substantive disclosure, as would New York.”