The saga of the Glazers’ Manchester United ownership took yet another turn this week with the announcement that the company will undertake a public listing. However, having previously been linked to an IPO on the Singapore Stock Exchange, which would have cemented its position as one of the most popular Premier League clubs in Asia, Tuesday’s announcement that the listing will take place in New York appears to have caught many spectators by surprise.
The company is hoping to raise up to USD 100m, and while the US remains less enthusiastic for the quaint English game of “soccer”, listing in NY does offer the Glazers advantages that floating in Asia would not, particularly concerning their ability to retain control of the club. The shares being offered are “A” class shares which have one voting right each, whereas the Glazers would retain the “B” class shares, each of which has 10 voting rights.
Therein lies the quandary. Will interested parties be willing to pay for shares that don’t provide them with “real” ownership, but do give access to one of the biggest sporting brands in the world? Or will they believe that this share structure - whilst reducing the company’s indebtedness - doesn’t offer anything that interests real investors?