NEW YORK (TheStreet — Manchester United knows something about corner kicks. It’s slanting a kick from Asia to the U.S. for its large stock offering.
The soccer team initially chose Singapore for its IPO. Makes perfect sense. Singapore is a former British colony and is addicted to the game. Soccer, or “football” as the rest of the world calls it, is a sport that began in the British isles, and quickly spread among the Commonwealth nations and beyond to become the world’s most popular sport. It also did not hurt that Singapore was also at the door of the large Asian fan base for Man U. But the large franchise decided to move its offering to the states. That also makes perfect sense.The top teams of America’s National Football League are among the world’s most profitable sports franchises. The Dallas Cowboys alone are worth $1.81 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Manchester Union, the English Premium League power, rules the rest of the world and is valued at an estimated $1.86 billion, but it has yet to play its game in the American markets. The team’s backers hope that once American investors catch the adrenaline, large American TV revenues and merchandising opportunities will follow. Man U is already adjusting its game plan to play well in the states, having cut Morgan Stanley (MS) from its underwriting team. No word yet on the exchange of choice. However, if I were a betting person, I’d go with the New York Stock Exchange, a unit of NYSE Euronext(NYX). The Nasdaq still has the taint of the weak Facebook(FB) IPO (as does Morgan Stanley). Man U will want to avoid problems that plagued the last fan-favorite offering.Unfortunately, despite its potential, the team is loaded with debt incurred when the Glazer family bought Man U in 2005. The offering is an attempt to address that debt. The Glazer family has already sold Manchester United bonds with full repayment due in 2017. The clock is ticking down.The only other sports team where the public has had a chance to purchase shares is the Green Bay Packers. It’s a similar class of shares, which was another appeal of the U.S. market. However, Green Bay handled the share sale by itself.Buyers went on-line to make their purchases, and the team mailed them stock certificates. There is no secondary market for the shares, which can be handed down only within a family. (Disclosure: My husband owns Green Bay stock. Yes, I married a cheesehead.)
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