ManU Really Stepped in It
Peter is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Honestly, with the way things are going for U.S. IPO’s this year, one has to wonder just what people are thinking in setting these things up. First we have Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), which Morgan-Stanley (NYSE: MS) hyped to the moon and back again, taking the IPO price from around $10-12 per share in November to $38 per share by the time the IPO occurred. We all know what happened after that. The underwriters spent most of the afternoon supporting the IPO price that first day and it cost hundreds of millions of dollars to do so.
Now comes the Manchester United (NYSE: MANU) IPO, which started out life last year as another prize for Singapore’s exchange over the ones in New York, but which was quickly scrapped as they could not get interest in the offering at a price of around $1 billion. F1 has put off their IPO, reportedly north of $3 billion in Singapore, because of ‘volatile’ markets. I would venture to guess the reason was something more closely associated with laughter at such lofty valuations. Listing in New York has to be seen as the booby prize. Why list your shares in a country that only watches soccer during the Olympics and the World Cup?
ManU has an enormous following in Southeast Asia, similar to the New York Yankees in global popularity. The estimates are close to 2/3 of their 350+ million fan base resides in Asia. If they could not have listed there and gotten what they wanted, what made the Glazer family think they could do better on Wall St.?
While Asians love to gamble and they also love their soccer and racing it’s beginning to look like they don’t love them enough to want to own them. They would much rather bet on the outcome of one of their games than plunk $30 down on a stock that has little chance of going up. It looks like the Picasso value of ManU is far less than the sell-side on Wall St. thought it was. This is not 2007, or even 2010. If they had taken the team public during those boom times, they would have gotten their price. But they’ve waited until the global macro situation has deteriorated and interest in equity markets is falling.
The betting industry around ManU is so big that here in Vietnam I can troll the pawn shops after a big match and pick up near new Apple iGadgets at really steep discounts.
But, that said, Friday’s IPO at $14, $4 lower than the mean expected price, had to be vigorously defended by the underwriter, Jefferies, for hours at $14.01 on that first day. This was a pitiful performance which, again, suggests that the company, like Facebook, went public for all the wrong reasons. The IPO raised just $234 million, less than one-fourth of what they were hoping to get just eight months ago.
The Glazer family paid too much in their leverage buyout to gain control in 2005 and is now trying to bilk the fans to help them clear a $662 million debt load which is hampering their ability to acquire the best players; affecting their performance on the pitch.
But this is a strong international brand that has marketing power. GM (NYSE: GM) just signed a massive advertising deal that will put the Chevrolet logo on ManU’s jerseys starting in 2014. As of right now, however, this IPO looks rich by many observers’ standards.
PeterPham8 has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Facebook, and General Motors Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.