Manchester United Said to Plan $500 Million IPO in U.S.

Manchester United Said to Plan Filing for $500 Million U.S. IPO
The Old Trafford stadium, home of Manchester United soccer club, stands in Manchester. Photographer: Paul Thomas/Bloomberg

Manchester United Ltd., the record 19-time English soccer champion, may file for an initial public offering in the U.S. to raise about $500 million, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The club, which previously planned to raise about $1 billion in Singapore, is switching venues and could hold the IPO after the summer, said the people, who declined to be identified because the plans are private. The IPO filing could happen within days, one of the people said.

Jefferies Group Inc. has been added as a manager for the IPO, alongside JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG, while Morgan Stanley will no longer advise on the transaction, the people said.

Singapore’s benchmark stock index, the Straits Times Index, has fallen about 13 percent since August, when United was contemplating an IPO in the city state. The Glazer family bought the team in 2005 for 790 million pounds ($1.2 billion) and it has 659 million fans, making it the world’s most popular, United said last month, citing a study by market research company Kantar.

While a U.S. listing would give Manchester United access to investors worldwide, the club could fetch a higher valuation by choosing an exchange closer to its fan base, said Matt McCormick of Bahl & Gaynor Inc.

“Even though Manchester United is a global brand, of all the marketplaces, the U.S. is probably the one where it’s the least well-known,” said McCormick, who helps oversee $6.2 billion at the firm in Cincinnati. “If they’re hot in Europe or in Asia, then it would give me pause that they aren’t going to their strengths.”

Singapore Approval

Spokespeople at Manchester United, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan declined to comment. Jefferies couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. Pen Pendleton, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, declined to comment.

United received the Singapore stock exchange’s approval in September to raise $1 billion in an IPO, but the process was stalled as volatile stock markets roiled equity sales, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

Formula One Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone said May 31 that the auto racing series’ planned IPO may not take place until later this year because of time pressures and a volatile equity market. Ecclestone said he’s busy handling business, such as talks with the promoters for a proposed 2013 race in New Jersey, and can’t devote the necessary time to the IPO.

Formula One’s shareholders led by CVC Capital Partners Ltd. plan to raise as much as $3 billion by selling stakes in the business in Singapore and have contacted so-called cornerstone investors.

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