The Manchester United soccer team appears to be ready to launch its initial public offering in New York City soon in late July, with pricing expected to begin sometime in the beginning of August. American Malcolm Glazer owns the hugely popular English organization and is seeking around $300 million, much less than the previously expected $500 million, according to Reuters.
Glazer, who purchased the team in 2005, evidently wants to keep firm control of what is widely regarded as the world's most valuable sports brand. He has yet to release audited financial materials that are more recent than June 2011, and the latest filing, which took place on Monday, didn't reveal much more than the brand's name on the ticker will be MANU.
Despite MANU's popularity, Glazer faces a few challenges for the IPO's debut, which was originally supposed to take place after Labor Day weekend in the U.S. Investors have been slow to take on the big name in part because of high debt, and the stock of listed teams doesn't always translate to success in America, Reuters reported on Monday.
Glazer's decision to take the team to an IPO is aimed in part at getting help with the high debt, although his insistence on maintaining complete control has turned off some potential investors. The dual structure class of voting stock make it certain Glazer will maintain control because of the lack of power certain investors will have in their voting rights, said the New York Times. New York was the best market to open MANU because the markets in Hong Kong and Singapore do not allow dual-structure voting.
Fourteen IPOs opened in America last year that featured dual class shares. Multiple sources are reporting the owners of the franchise opted for the U.S. because of the country's Wall Street deregulation in recent years.
Malcolm Glazer has saddled the franchise with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt since he purchased 60 percent of the company off the London Stock Exchange in 2005. Currently, the total debt stands at a number somewhere near $655 million, notes Deal Book.
Manchester United is one of the most recognized brands in the world because of the team's success on the field as well as soccer's global popularity. Even though in Britain the team competes against many other clubs for fans' attention stadiums are regularly sold out to watch Man U play. That limits the brand's domestic growth to ticket sales while international TV deals and corporate sponsorships have increased the franchise's value.
Malcolm Glazer and the board of directors under him are almost universally despised among Man U fans, who in 2010 tried to organize themselves and purchase the team from the current owners. Glazer said, as he consistently has, that the club's sale isn't even up for discussion. Fans cannot, however, complain about the team's success under its current owner.
During the seven years leading up to the 2005 sale the team won four titles in the Premier League and one Champions League title along with two F.A. Cups. The seven years since have seen the same number of Premier League titles, one Champions League title, and two second place finishes in the F.A. Cup.