London: English soccer team Manchester United set the terms for its US initial public offering on Monday saying it will offer 16.67 million shares at between $16 and $20 each, which values the club at $3.3 billion (Dh12.12 billion) at the top of the range.
Manchester United has been struggling with a hefty debt burden ever since being acquired by the family of Florida-based businessman Malcolm Glazer and his family in 2005.
The club and the Glazers each will be selling half the IPO shares in an offering that will raise as much as $333 million (Dh1.2 billion). The club’s proceeds from the IPO will be used to reduce its debt of £423 million as of March 31 to £345.4 million (Dh2.444 billion to Dh1.99 billion). The Glazers will remain in a dominant position after the offering with 89.8 per cent of the Combined class A and B shares.
The IPO may be a tough sell in the United States given the lack of US publicly traded sports teams to compare Manchester United against and given that many Americans don’t regard soccer as a top sport.
The company’s latest financials may also give investors pause. Revenue for the year that just ended is expected to be £315 million to £320 million (Dh1.82 billion to Dh1.85 billion), down by about 3 to 5 per cent from the previous fiscal year as match day revenue, such as ticket sales, and broadcasting revenue both declined, the company said in its regulatory filing.
Operating expenses also increased 4 to 5 per cent as a result of a jump in compensation for players and other staff.
Shares are highly priced based on expected earnings of between £21 million to £23 million in the year just ended. This makes the price to earnings ratio based on both A and B shares at a very steep 95 times.
The club only made a profit in the latest year because of a tax credit of £27 million to £29 million.
“It could be challenging to justify such strong multiples for a company that needs to spend a lot of money to generate success,” Ken Perkins, an analyst with Morningstar said. “Even if their performance is good their price may be a bit high.”
The details of the sale were announced just as it was revealed that the club had signed a seven-year sponsorship deal with General Motors Co to have the Chevrolet brand on their shirts starting in 2014. The deal is worth roughly $600 million, Reuters reported.
The club had filed to raise up to $100 million in its IPO of Class A stock earlier this month.
Manchester United will kick off a two-week investor roadshow on Wednesday, with stops expected in the United States, Europe and Asia, according to a source familiar with the company’s plans who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.
The road show stops will be done concurrently, with two separate management teams covering different geographies. One will be responsible for meeting with investors in the United States and the other with investors in Europe and Asia. Pricing is expected on August 9.
The team chose to list in the United States after scrapping listings in Singapore and Hong Kong. It had originally looked to raise as much as $1 billion in Singapore.
“I’m a little concerned that the offering couldn’t be done initially and now all of a sudden it has a heartbeat,” said David Menlow, president of IPO Financial which tracks IPOs. “The mentality with sports teams is that people like owning a piece as a trophy investment, but will it live up to expectations?”
The Glazers also own the US football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They will retain control after the sale because their Class B shares will have 10 times the voting power of average investors’ Class A shares.
Jefferies Group Inc is the lead book runner in the syndicate, which also includes Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. The company will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “MANU.”
Morgan Stanley bowed out of bringing the deal to market when Manchester United decided to list in the United States.