Several media outlets have reported that George Soros has bought about 8% of the shares in recent IPO of Manchester United Ltd. (NYSE: MANU). Soros Fund Management LLC owns 7.9% of the soccer club, which some claim is the single most valuable sports franchise in the world. The move is a puzzle, since the IPO was widely criticized as overvalued. Shares in the firm trade just above $13 against a high of $15.27.
The IPO received additional attacks because most of the money went to the founding Glazer family and to pay down debt. But Soros may have decided to take the long view. Manchester United has a history as a championship team. The soccer club claims 600 million fans worldwide, though that cannot be substantiated. The club’s games are, however, televised all over the world. And Manchester United has had particularly good success gaining paid sponsors.
Douglas A. McIntyre