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Man Utd fans enraged by IPO plans

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 02:01

Jul 31 - A group of Manchester United fans have accused the American Glazer family of milking the English Premier League soccer team for cash after IPO terms revealed they planned to take half of the proceeds of its flotation. Joanne Nicholson reports

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They won the British premier league in 2011 but last season they didn't win any silverware. To add to that pain, Manchester United's supporters are now wondering why money from a flotation of the club on the stock market won't be used to bring down its debts Half of the cash will go directly into the pockets of the Florida-based family that owns the club. The Glazers bought Manchester United in 2005 for 790 million pounds, using loans secured against the club's assets. Under their plans for the IPO on the New York stock exchange they'd offer up 10 percent equity and only 2 percent of the vote, leaving investors with little say in how the club is run. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDY GREEN, FOOTBALL FINANCE EXPERT, SAYING: "It's quite unusual and it's one of the reasons they've gone for New York becasue that structure wouldn't actually be allowed in the UK." Andy Green is a member of the Manchester United Supporter's Trust and a football finance expert: (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDY GREEN, FOOTBALL FINANCE EXPERT, SAYING: "I think it shows some desperation on behalf of the family. Obviously very tough market conditions and they've tried in a few other territories and failed but they continue to persist and now we can see this money coming out and going back to the family, you can see the motivation is probably driven by their own cash requirements." The club rejected floations in Singpore and Hong Kong before turning to New York. It hopes to raise $333 million dollars but some fund managers have been lukewarm about the prospect of buying shares in the club. They say it faces significant financial risks given its $658 million dollars of debt and fear the structure of the business puts its customers - the fans - at odds with shareholders. The team's cash balance stood at just 26 million pounds as of March this year, compared with 151 million last June. And that's the pot it dips into to buy the best footballing talent. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters

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Man Utd fans enraged by IPO plans

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 02:01