Man United put Singapore IPO on hold

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It's being rumoured that market volatility has persuaded Manchester United to put its $1bn Singapore flotation on hold. The Financial Times and Reuters both quote trusted sources who say the deal is being delayed, leading some critics of owners the Glazers to question whether they can secure investors.

The FT source says: "There is nothing official but it [the IPO] is on pause because of the markets". And Reuters reports a source saying: "They are not ready to go because of the way the markets are looking. Whilst they've got the approval for listing, they certainly don't have the intention to go immediately."

If the rumours are true, United would not be the only outfit to delay an IPO at the moment. A total of 215 IPOs have been withdrawn or postponed so far this year, with a total value of some $44.1bn. UK gym chain Fitness First's long-mooted IPo in Singapore has yet to happen, for instance.

United have permission from the Singapore exchange to launch the IPO any time before the end of this year, but they could buy time by requesting an extension, the granting of which would be a formality unless something extraordinary emerges.

Supporters Trust

Discussions are said to be continuing as the club waits for the right time to float. Given the state of the markets at the moment, caution seems wise. But any talk of delay inevitably raises questions about the prospects for the bid, and the Manchester United Supporters Trust says it's heard different.

"Our sources are reporting that the Glazers are struggling to secure cornerstone investors to support the Manchester United IPO at what independent commentators consider to be a highly ambitious valuation," said MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo.

Only Singapore state investment outfit Temasek have so far been identified as a cornerstone investor, and the club's valuation of its own worth is twice what Forbes puts it at. The Glazers are thought to want to use some of the money an IPO would raise to pay down the enormous debts attached to the club.

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