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Jul 4, 2012

United seek to reduce debt

Manchester United have applied to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange as they seek to raise $100 million (£64 million) to reduce the club's debts through the sale of shares.

• United halt Singapore shares plan
• United talk up share potential

The Glazer family, the US sports investors who bought the club for $1.47 billion (£940 million) in 2005, would retain control of the club under the plan.

United last year abandoned a potential $1 billion (£940 million) flotation on the Singapore stock market due to the state of the global economy, but documents were filed with the United States government's Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday as the Glazers seek to improve the state of the club's finances.

The 2005 takeover had saddled the club with £423 million in debt, and the application states that the shares would be used towards improving the state of the club's financial health.

Under the risk factors, which must be included under Stock Exchange regulations, the document warns that the debt "could adversely affect our financial health and competitive position". Nonetheless, the Glazers believe that they will be able to "increase our revenue and profitability, by expanding our high-growth businesses that leverage our brand, global community and marketing infrastructure". The application adds: "We believe that we are one of the world's most recognisable global brands with a community of 659 million followers."

With the sale of the shares, the team would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manchester United Ltd, a newly-formed holding company based in the Cayman Islands.

Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST), questioned the value of the shares on offer compared with those owned by the Glazers but said reducing the debt would be a positive step.

Drasdo said: "A minority shareholding with inferior voting rights and no dividends is going to severely impact on the attraction to both financial and supporter investors.

"However, if it turns out that the vast majority of the proceeds are used to pay off the debt that is certainly something MUST would welcome and entirely vindicates our long-standing position that their debt was damaging our club."

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