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Aug 21, 2012

Billionaire Soros takes Man U stake

NEW YORK -- Billionaire financier George Soros is getting in on the game, taking a minority stake in soccer club Manchester United.

Soros disclosed in a regulatory filing on Monday that he owns 7.85 percent of Manchester United's Class A shares. The filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was made by Soros' hedge fund, Soros Fund Management LLC.

The 134-year-old English Premier League soccer club went public on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month.

The American family that owns the team, the Glazers, have voting control over it through Class B shares that have 10 times the voting power of the stock sold to the public.

The Glazer family also owns the American football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Malcolm Glazer is CEO of First Allied Corp., a holding company with numerous business interests. His two sons Avram and Joel are co-chairmen of Manchester United.

While Manchester United has rabid fan support, it did not receive as hearty of a welcome on the public stock market. Its debut over a week ago was considered disappointing, with enthusiasm for the celebrated team overshadowed by its debt load and financial track record. Manchester United carried 416.7 million pounds ($666.2 million) in debt as of March 31. It had no debt when it was bought by the Glazer family in 2005.

Manchester United's stock closed at $14 on its first trading day, valuing the club at $2.3 billion, slightly higher than the record $2 billion paid for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team earlier this year.

The company's stock closed at $13.06 on Monday, down 7 percent from its debut.

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