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Old 25th July 2012, 21:36   #1
Paul Brooks

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Default Manchester United 'temporarily postpone New York flotation plan'

Manchester United 'temporarily postpone New York flotation plan'

• Move follows stockmarket volatility caused by eurozone turmoil
• Listings in Hong Kong and Singapore were also scrapped

Simon Goodley and Dan Milmo, Wednesday 25 July 2012 21.15 BST

Malcolm Glazer Manchester United
Manchester United were acquired by Malcolm Glazer, above, and his family for £790m in 2005. Photograph: Action Images / Wireimage / A Me/Action Images

Manchester United are thought to have postponed temporarily plans to launch their $300m (£193m) flotation in New York, after volatile US markets spooked the Premier League club into a rethink.

The move is the latest setback in a long-running attempt to list the company's shares, a move that had previously been earmarked for the exchanges in Hong Kong and Singapore, and comes as the club had been looking to kick off their roadshow presentations to potential share buyers this week.

However, United and their advisers are now believed to be reassessing that plan following another week of turmoil in the eurozone that has caused world stock markets to slide. Wall Street's S&P 500 index is trading down 2% this week, while keenly watched statistics on the volatility of the market are thought to have made potential investors more circumspect.

The plan had been for United's shares to begin trading in early August and it is not clear if United will still attempt to list their shares ahead of the traditionally quiet period up until after the US public holidays in early September, when Wall Street tends to return to work.

Neither Jefferies, the investment bank that has been signed up to lead United's flotation, nor the club returned phone calls on the flotation delay, reported on Wednesday night in the Financial Times.

Manchester United were acquired by the Glazer family for £790m in 2005, in a deal that was heavily criticised by the club's fans for its reliance on debt financing. That debt pile appeared to play a part in the Glazers' consideration of a flotation, amid reports that part of the $1bn raised by the flotation would be used to pay down the club's £423.2m in gross debt.

Despite the reported pause, the Glazers have laid the ground for a flotation across the Atlantic, filing their intention at the New York Stock Exchange to float a Manchester United company registered in the Cayman Islands.

Manchester United fans, thousands of whom have campaigned against the Glazers' ownership, have welcomed the prospect of a listing and not only because it would dilute the Glazers' shareholding. The Manchester United Supporters' Trust has said it would support the share sell-off if the proceeds were used to pay off debt.

For some fans last season's performance, which saw the team slip up in the run-in and hand the title to their arch-rivals Manchester City, was seen as the tipping point when financial constraints finally began to impede the club's ability to compete for top players. Fans hope that a less indebted club will be able to spend more on transfers, but Sir Alex Ferguson has never criticised the Glazers' ownership publicly.

Manchester United had eyed a listing in the far east, the fastest-growing region of the world economy, but that was pulled amid general concerns over market volatility.

Other companies have suffered from the factors of eurozone turbulence and weak demand that have derailed their Asian listing plans.

Formula One shelved a $10bn flotation in Singapore after expressing concerns over the impact of the eurozone crisis on markets.
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