Man United New York float could free up cash for players
By Keith Weir
LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United plans to cut its debt with a New York flotation that should free up cash for top players after a barren season in which it was replaced at the top of English soccer by rich rivals Manchester City.
The American Glazer family, owner of the NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will keep its grip on the 19-times English champions after the planned U.S. float by using a dual share structure.
The club has filed to raise up to $100 million to reduce its debt pile of 423 million pounds ($663.20 million). That is a provisional figure and the size of the issue could yet increase.
United ditched plans to raise up to $1 billion in Asia, home to many of United's 659 million global fans, and the move to North America, where English soccer has a much smaller following, was surprising when flagged last month.
However, market volatility has delayed a number of flotations in Asia in recent months, including the Formula One motor racing business.
U.S. investors are also familiar with the dual-class structure planned for United. The class A shares to be issued will have only a tenth of the voting rights of the ones held by the Glazer family who bought the club in 2005 for 790 million pounds.
"In the Premier League, recent investment from wealthy team owners has led to teams with deep financial backing that are able to acquire top players and coaching staff, which could result in improved performance from those teams in domestic and European competitions," United said in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday.
Formed in 1878, United, whose past players include George Best, Bobby Charlton and David Beckham, issued a hefty preliminary prospectus but has not yet given details on the timing of the float and the precise size. Continued...