Aug. 10 - Shares in Manchester United began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in what's being described a disappointing debut after the stock was priced below the expected range. Joanna Partridge reports.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE*~ From the pitch to the New York Stock Exchange. Manchester United executives welcomed the British football club's trading start on the NYSE. But the listing hasn't quite been the golden goal anticipated by the club's owners, America's Glazer family. The IPO priced well below its expected range. The club said its shares priced at $14 each, instead of the target between $16 and $20. That values the club at only $2.3 billion, about a billion less than if the shares had been at the top end of the range - and shaving money off the proceeds for the owners. While soccer is the world's most popular sport - analysts say the IPO setback shows how even the biggest names can have limited appeal for investors, says Christopher Beauchamp at IG Group. SOUNDBITE: Christopher Beauchamp, Market analyst, IG Group, saying (English): "In the wake of the Facebook IPO earlier in the year, there has been a degree of caution creeping in amongst investors to new stocks entering the market. With this one in particular I think the issues with that are it reduces the money available to pay down debt, which of course was one of the key reasons for IPO in the first place. And also questions whether the club can sustain its current performance and growth rate." The $233 million raised by the offering will be split equally between the club and the Glazers. They bought the 19-times English champions in 2005 for nearly 800 million pounds, or $1.3 billion. The leveraged buyout saddled the club with debt, which has made the American owner unpopular with fans. Mark Priest from ETX Capital doesn't expect the stock to do that well, although it was marginally higher in early trade. SOUNDBITE: Mark Priest, ETX Capital, saying (English): "I've read some report that, sort of ten dollars was a reasonable price, so I'm not expecting great things." Man United initially planned to list in Hong Kong, and then decided on Singapore to tap into its large Asian fan base. Those deals didn't come off due to market turmoil. Its cut price IPO in New York will have some wondering whether the world famous team has indeed been lucky the third time around. Joanna Partridge, Reuters