United plans $1bn float in Singapore

 
Steve Dinneen
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MANCHESTER United is preparing to launch an audacious Singapore float in which it could raise more than £600m.

The club’s controversial American owners hope the IPO could value their prized asset at more than £2bn, taking advantage of the huge popularity of the Manchester United brand in the east.

It is understood between 20 and 30 per cent of the club will be made available to investors in a float that could go through before the end of the year.

Speculation has mounted that Hong Kong would be the preferred destination for an IPO after several rumoured bids from foreign investors failed to materialise earlier this year.

The IPO of a globally recognised brand such as Manchester United would be a coup for Singapore, which has been competing with Hong Kong for international listings.

Malcolm Glazer (pictured), whose family also own American Football’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, took Manchester United private following a heavily leveraged £790m takeover in 2005. The club now has gross debts of more than £500m.

This led to a long-running fans’ protest, which culminated in the formation of a group of “Red Knight” rich businessmen who said they would wrest control of the club.

However, their valuation fell far short of the Glazers’ and the bid petered out.

Manchester United declined to comment on “market rumour and speculation” yesterday.

POSSIBLE ADVISERS

CREDIT SUISSE

MORGAN STANLEY

A NUMBER of investment banks have been linked with the potential cash-cow of advising Manchester United as it seeks a lucrative Far East flotation.

It is understood Credit Suisse has been hired to lead the listing process, although Morgan Stanley was also believed to be in the running to lead the IPO mandate. It is not clear if any other banks will be added to the advisory list.

Both Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley declined to comment, as did Manchester United.

Whoever eventually wins the privilege will be tasked with achieving the maximum valuation for a club whose worth varies wildly depending on who you talk to.

A group of potential bidders called the Red Knights valued the club at £1bn but it is understood the Glazers are hoping for a price-tag of more than double that number. Analysts believe the true figure is around £1.7bn.