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SBD Global/July 11, 2012/International Football

Glazer's ManU Flotation Facing Criticism Over Use Of Old Financials

ManU joint-chair Avram Glazer is seen before an April 30 match against Man City.
The Glazer family's timing for floating ManU is "facing criticism from some analysts" who argue the Glazers are "deliberately avoiding having to present United's expected decline" in financial performance in '11-12, according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. The Glazers have filed to float ManU on the N.Y. Stock Exchange. ManU's income is expected to have "suffered a significant decline" last year, principally due to the club being eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage. Conversely, in '11 they earned €53M ($68M) from UEFA after reaching the final. Presenting accounts more than 12 months old "fails to comply" with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requirements, and ManU have "had to apply for special dispensation to have the out-of-date accounts allowed." ManU spokespersons "are not commenting on any aspect of the proposed flotation." Int'l Finance Review Deputy Editor Owen Wild has criticized the timing because ManU's "financial performance in '11-12 is likely to have been significantly worse" than for '10-11. Wild said, "It is very often unnecessary to do this, and investors are rightly suspicious when companies do it" (GUARDIAN, 7/10). In N.Y., Steven M. Davidoff wrote ManU's "initial public offering is not a reflection of Americans’ increasing love of soccer. Instead, it is a reflection of American regulators’ light touch." The U.S. "long been criticized" for its harsh IPO rules but now "is now the place where foreign companies go to avoid regulation." The Glazers passed on the Hong Kong exchange "because it would not give the team a waiver to allow two classes of shares, with different voting rights." The London exchange "does not allow such share structures," either, "perhaps the reason this natural home was skipped over (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).
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