United bond roadshow hits the City

David Hellier
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MANCHESTER United’s chief executive David Gill took the club’s marketing of its £500m bond issue to the City yesterday, 24 hours after pitching it to investors in Edinburgh.

The United management team met potential investors at the Grocers’ Hall near the Bank of England.

There is expected to be sufficient demand for the issue, although some UK investors have expressed nervousness about the level of risk involved in taking up the bond given a football club’s volatile earnings, United’s indebtedness and its lack of tangible security.

United will take its roadshow to the far east and the US and some financial experts are speculating that the trip may flush out prospective buyers of the club if the Glazer family decided to sell.

The 100-plus page prospectus for the bond issue spells out some of the key risks involved in backing United, including the possibility of the club not being able to attract a sufficiently successful successor to 68-year-old manager Sir Alex Ferguson.


With so little corporate activity in the equity market, some of the larger banks are thanking their lucky stars they have built up their debt operations.

A host of corporates, from Virgin Media to Ford to Manchester United, have recently made clear their intention of tapping the bond markets. Virgin Media, which is being advised by Dominic Ashcroft from Goldman Sachs and JP?Morgan, has decided to treble the size of its original issue to raise £1.5bn.

Many of the City’s powerhouse banks are involved in the management of the Manchester United issue, including JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and RBS.

Leading the team at Bank of America is Amir Hoveyda, who is the EMEA head of the bank’s debt capital markets team.

The RBS debt capital markets team is run by Richard Bartlett. RBS, which was recently voted Sterling Bond House of the Year by trade magazine IFR, is also working on Virgin Media.