Exclusive: Man United plans IPO launch within days: sources

Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:42pm EDT
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By Stephen Lacey and Olivia Oran

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Manchester United is planning to launch the marketing road show for its proposed $300 million U.S. initial public offering within days, after a delay earlier this week, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The British soccer club, which is controlled by the Glazer family, may start the road show as soon as Friday or early next week, according to the sources. The offering is expected to value the team at roughly $3 billion.

But sources warned that market conditions could lead to further delays.

The S&P 500 fell for the fourth day on Wednesday amid worries about the European debt crisis and earnings, and the volatility has already led to at least one delay. Sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday that the club was planning a launch earlier this week but delayed it because of market conditions and was going to reevaluate conditions.

If the launch happens as planned now, the club could price the offering in the week of August 13, the sources said.

Manchester United could not be reached for comment.

The offering is being watched closely by millions of the club's fans, who follow the team with almost religious fervor. The Glazers, who took control of the club in 2005, have been reviled for saddling up the team with too much debt, leading to fears that it would not be able to attract the best soccer players. The team has 423 million pounds of debt ($658 million), which the owners hope the IPO will help reduce.

In 2010, a group of wealthy Manchester United fans known as the Red Knights, which included Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill, tried to buy the team for 1 billion pounds, arguing that the team's value was in decline.   Continued...

Manchester United supporters wave flags outside the stadium before their English Premier League soccer match against Blackpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, May 22, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Staples