English Soccer Club Manchester United Files for U.S. IPO

With a global fan base that follows its televised matches and buys its merchandise, the club is considered the most valuable in world soccer.

LONDON - English soccer club Manchester United has filed for a U.S. IPO after previously dropping plans go public again in Asia.

The soccer powerhouse, which has a global fan base that follows its televised matches and buys its merchandise, last year considered a stock market listing in Singapore that could have been worth $1 billion. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/manchester-united-plans-1-billion-2238
44 It abandoned those plans amid market volatility.

Late Tuesday though, the club, known as the Red Devils, filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

The record 19-time English champions, considered one of the most powerful in world soccer, mentioned an IPO size of up to $100 million, but that was only the initial registration amount - basically a place holder figure that will likely be updated later. Manchester United did not detail an overall offering size or how many shares it plans to sell.

Forbes magazine has valued Man U at $2.24 billion, making it the world's most valuable soccer side for eight years running.

The club in its registration statement said it plans to use the IPO proceeds to reduce its debt, which has been high ever since its acquisition a few years ago by U.S. businessman Malcolm Glazer.

Glazer, who also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL outfit, would retain control of Man U via a dual voting stock structure, according to a regulatory filing.

The Glazer family has faced criticism from long-time fans since buying control of the club in 2005. Anti-Glazer chants and songs are a regular occurrence.

Man U previously was listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1991 until the Glazer $663 million buyout took it private.

The team's star players over the years have included English striker Wayne Rooney and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, who was later traded to Spanish club Real Madrid for a record sum.

The IPO has been seen as a way to increase Man U's financial flexibility for possible player acquisitions.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai