United could be forced to delay its IPO

Steve Dinneen
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MANCHESTER United may be flying on the pitch but its IPO in Singapore appears to have stalled.

Sources close to the transaction told City A.M. the club is struggling to convince cornerstone investors to invest at its target price against a backdrop of volatile markets.

The club is hoping to raise in the region of £640m when it floats around a third of its equity, giving it a market cap of almost £2bn – a huge mark-up on the Glazer family’s heavily leveraged £790m takeover in 2005.

The source added the terms of the IPO, which would see new shares receive half the voting rights of those held by the Glazers, could also be a sticking point.

It is understood retail investor demand is high, buoyed by the sky-high popularity of the team in Asia, but state investors including Temasek are taking longer to convince.

The club is still thought to be aiming to float in the fourth quarter but is open to the prospect of waiting until next year depending on the performance of equity markets. It is keen to cut its debt pile, which totals more than £300m.

However, its prospects have been hindered by a choppy IPO market that has seen high profile firms including Groupon and, in Hong Kong, Fitness First pull their floats.

Credit Suisse is lead adviser to Manchester United, supported by JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley.

The Singapore exchange last week gave permission for the float to go ahead.

The club’s hopes of forging ahead with the IPO were boosted earlier this month when it revealed a swing into the black in its full year results.

It reported a pre-tax gain of £29.7m, compared with a loss of £79.2m last year. Its total revenue also soared 16 per cent to £331.4m – surpassing the £300m mark for the first time.

Commercial revenue was up 27 per cent, driven by an £80m shirt sponsorship deal with Aon. Media income grew 10 per cent to £119m, witha new Premier League TV rights deal coming into effect. Match day income was £108.6m.