Manchester United has ditched its plans for an Asian listing and is preparing to list in the US, according to reports.
Manchester United claims to have 325m in Asia but just 34m fans in North America
After first eyeing a £1.7bn Hong Kong IPO
, it had planned to float up to 30pc of the club in Singapore in the second half of last year. With a 30pc stake of the club valued at around £600m, the overall value of United would be in the region of £2bn.
As a result of its change of listing location, Manchester United is expected to make changes to its bookrunning syndicate. Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley were originally mandated as bookrunners for the Singapore listing, but sources told Reuters said that this line-up could change.
Jefferies has also joined the deal, the sources said.
The banks working on the deal and a Manchester United spokesperson did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
One of the sources said Manchester United had always planned to position itself as a global media business rather than a sports franchise, suggesting that a US listing would make more sense. shopping centres. Conversely, they are extremely unpopular in the UK, which could have made a London listing difficult.
US investors are also familiar with the dual-class share structure that was under discussion for Manchester United’s Singapore listing, having seen it used by household names such as Google and Facebook.
The Glazers are understood to have wanted to sell Class B shares with limited or no voting rights to maintain a level of control of 95pc to 100pc. That structure was said to be one reason why they opted for Singapore in the first place, as, unlike Hong Kong, the exchange was happy to agree to the format, and for the club’s Class A shares to be quoted but not traded.
However, the issuer is understood to have become frustrated with long delays in approval from the Singapore Exchange, even after it had indicated it would have no problems with a dual-class share issue.
A US listing might earn the company a better valuation as a media business, since it has contracts for broadcasting rights as well as its own television channel. However, it is unlikely to achieve the original goal of putting shares in the hands of a wide base of United fans.
A source told Reuters that the original aim of the Singapore listing was to create “a pan-regional platform for retail investors”. Singapore had seemed the ideal location, as it provided a way to reach retail investors in one of its biggest fan bases, Indonesia.
When the Singapore listing was still under consideration, the importance of Asia to the company, with much of its growth coming from Asian merchandise sales, had been heavily emphasised during marketing to investors.
The club claims to have 659m supporters worldwide, of which 325m are in Asia Pacific and 55m in Indonesia. It counts just 34m fans in North America, where soccer has yet to build a significant supporter base. Last year the club posted a record full-year operating profit of £110.9m to June 30.