Manchester United Eyes $1B IPO

(Reuters) – English Premier League football champions Manchester United plans a $1 billion initial public offering (IPO) in Singapore by the end of the year, depending on market conditions, IFR reported on Tuesday, citing a source with direct knowledge of the plans.

Morgan Stanley and at least one other bank were close to winning the mandate for the IPO, but others could also be added to the group, said IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

Speculation had been rife in recent months about Manchester United listing in Hong Kong, which has become the venue of choice for global brands such as fashion house Prada SpA and cosmetics maker L’Occitane International.

With nearly two-thirds of its 300 million fans in Asia, the region has become an important growth area for the loss-making club.

Earlier this month, the Sunday Mirror reported the Glazer family, which controls the club, was looking to sell as much as 25 percent in an offering.

Despite the mounting talk of a Hong Kong offering, the territory bars unprofitable companies from listing on its exchange.

The IPO of a globally recognized brand such as Manchester United would be a coup for Singapore, which has been competing with Hong Kong for international listings.

Despite winning the biggest IPO in Asia Pacific during the first half of 2011 — the $5.45 billion deal from Hutchison Port Holdings Trust in March — Singapore’s $7.1 billion in IPO proceeds in the period paled to Hong Kong’s $13.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Glazer family took Manchester United private following their 790 million pounds ($1.3 billion) takeover in 2005.

United’s turnover in the three months through March firmed 1 percent from a year earlier to 75.2 million pounds, led by a surge in commercial revenue.

Morgan Stanley did not offer an immediate comment.

(Reporting by Fiona Lau; Writing by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Dan Lalor and David Holmes)