Manchester United Files for U.S. Share Sale of Soccer Club

Manchester United Ltd., the English soccer team with a record 19 national championships, filed to raise $100 million in a U.S. initial public offering.

The club didn’t say how many shares it will offer or at what price in a filing yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The offering amount is a placeholder used to calculate registration fees and may change.

United announced its plans for the sale a week after the end of a monthlong drought in U.S. IPOs. The club, owned by the Glazer family, scrapped plans for a Singapore offering as volatile stock markets roiled equity sales, people familiar said at the time. Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay debt, the filing shows.

“The U.S. market has an ability to provide cash,” said Michael Cuggino, who manages about $17 billion at San Francisco-based Pacific Heights Asset Management. “They’re Premier League soccer, so there’s an enterprise value there.”

United, which had planned to raise as much as $1 billion in Singapore, may hold the U.S. offering this summer, people with knowledge of the plans said last month. With Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index down 6 percent, companies have raised $657 million in IPOs there in the past year, compared with almost $7 billion in the first half of 2011 alone, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Jefferies Group Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. will lead the offering, United’s filing shows. Morgan Stanley, which had been hired to lead the sale in Singapore, isn’t listed as an underwriter in the filing for the U.S. offering.

U.S. Pitch

United spokesman Philip Townsend declined to comment on the offering, citing SEC regulations.

Banks pitched the idea of a U.S. sale to the Glazer family, the club’s U.S. owners, one person said. The family bought United in 2005 for 790 million pounds ($1.24 billion) and also own the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The family remain unpopular with many fans for using the club’s income to finance their acquisition. United had debt of 423.3 million pounds in the third quarter.

If “the vast majority of the proceeds are used to pay off the debt, that is certainly something” the club’s supporters’ trust would welcome, Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters Trust said in an e-mailed statement. “Until we have more detail, it is impossible to say with certainty what this will mean for Manchester United or its supporters.”

Most Popular Club

United, whose players include England’s striker Wayne Rooney and Welshman Ryan Giggs, has 659 million followers, making it the world’s most popular club, United said in May, citing a study by market research company Kantar. Its supporters have doubled in five years, helped by 108 million fans in China, where the team plans to play two exhibition matches this summer.

Singapore’s stock exchange in September approved United’s application to raise about $1 billion in an IPO. After delaying the offering last year, the club revisited the idea in March, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

Formula One shelved a listing plan in Singapore until later this year because of volatility, Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone said last month. Shareholders of the auto-racing series, led by CVC Capital Partners Ltd., plan to raise as much as $3 billion.

The dry spell in U.S. IPOs ended last week with initial offerings by companies including ServiceNow Inc. and EQT Midstream Partners LP, both of which have gained value in public trading.

Kayak Software Corp. and Palo Alto Networks Inc. plan to begin marketing IPOs to investors next week and complete the sales by the end of this month, people with knowledge of the companies’ plans said yesterday.

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