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Manchester United Files for US Share Sale of Soccer Club

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Manchester United Ltd, the English soccer team with a record 19 national championships, filed to raise US$100 million in a US initial public offering.

The club did not say how many shares it will offer or at what price in a filing Tuesday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The offering amount is a placeholder used to calculate registration fees and may change.

United announced its plans for the sale a week after the end of a month-long drought in US IPOs. The club, owned by the Glazer family, scrapped plans for a Singapore offering as volatile stock markets roiled equity sales, people familiar said at the time. Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay debt, the filing shows.

“The US market has an ability to provide cash,” said Michael Cuggino, who manages about US$17 billion at San Francisco- based Pacific Heights Asset Management. “They’re Premier League soccer, so there’s an enterprise value there.”

United, which had planned to raise as much as US$1 billion in Singapore, may hold the US offering this summer, people with knowledge of the plans said last month. With Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index down 6 per cent, companies have raised US$657 million in IPOs there in the past year, compared with almost US$7 billion in the first half of 2011 alone, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Jefferies Group Inc, Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co will lead the offering, United’s filing shows. Morgan Stanley (MS), which had been hired to lead the sale in Singapore, isn’t listed as an underwriter in the filing for the US offering.

Banks pitched the idea of a US sale to the Glazer family, the club’s US owners, one person said. The family bought United in 2005 for GBP790 million (US$1.24 billion) and also own the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

United, whose players include England’s striker Wayne Rooney and Welshman Ryan Giggs, has 659 million followers, making it the world’s most popular club, United said in May, citing a study by market research company Kantar. Its supporters have doubled in five years, helped by 108 million fans in China, where the team plans to play two exhibition matches this summer.

Singapore’s stock exchange in September approved United’s application to raise about US$1 billion in an IPO. After delaying the offering last year, the club revisited the idea in March, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

Formula One shelved a listing plan in Singapore until later this year because of volatility, Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone said last month. Shareholders of the auto-racing series, led by CVC Capital Partners Ltd, plan to raise as much as US$3 billion.

The dry spell in US IPOs ended last week with initial offerings by companies including ServiceNow Inc (NOW) and EQT Midstream Partners LP, both of which have gained value in public trading.

Kayak Software Corp and Palo Alto Networks Inc plan to begin marketing IPOs to investors next week and complete the sales by the end of this month, people with knowledge of the companies’ plans said Tuesday.

(Source: Bloomberg)