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Old Trafford Glazers Protest
We don't want to get into all the previous arguments about the Glazers burdening Manchester United with debt, or taking money out of the club to pay directors' fees, dividends or loan interest.
There is no contesting the fact that the parent club of Manchester United has a substantial debt, which may have peaked at over £700 million.
The Glazers were able to buy United primarily because, having built up a stake in the plc, Messrs McManus and Magnier sold them their 28.7 percent stake. Nevertheless, their bid did not become compulsory until they had 90 percent of the shares.
While many of the shares may have been in the hands of institutions, it surely must be the case that Manchester United fans sold their shares to the Glazers.
It does seem ironic that, while the takeover probably couldn't have been defeated, it would only have taken just over 10 percent of the shares in fans' hands to block the compulsory takeover; and with 15 percent or more they could have demanded a seat on the Board.
So if fans are still so incensed now, why didn't they organise themselves to retain and/or buy shares at the time. Furthermore, why didn't the Red Knights launch a counter-bid before the Glazers bought the Irishmen's stake?
Burdened with debt
Yes, it was what is called a "leveraged takeover", that is it was wholly or primarily funded by debt. When that happens it is not unusual for the debt to be placed on the senior company's balance sheet.
Now here is the thing. How would the "Red Knights" have funded a takeover bid of at least £1 billion, but more likely £1.6 billion without it also being a leveraged takeover, funded by debt? And where would that debt have ended up?
Or was it just that the Red Knights were seen as more "friendly" to the United cause.
It is also true that the Glazers could end up owning a company with no debt and drawing dividends from it. That will always stick in some people's throats but again the bid could have been defended or even prevented long before it was accomplished.
Anyone who resents the dividends could buy stock themselves, thereby participating in the ownership and deriving an income.
Many people will have been disappointed with the share issue being much smaller than had been anticipated. Some may have thought this was a pointer to imminent disaster for the club.
It is true that the markets were not in general very receptive to major stock issues at the time United were floated. It went ahead because the "window" for IPOs closes in the summer.
And yes, the shares slipped after issue. This is not uncommon.
In the event only about £150 million was raised in the floatation. This was seen by some as reflecting a lack of appetite for the shares, but Soros' stake appears to undermine that argument.
What is more likely is that advisors would recommend the minimum acceptable proportion of shares should be issued, thereby establishing the stock at a price from which it could be expected to rise.
As fortunes continued to improve both on and off the football field, it could reasonably be expected that the company could return to the market in future to raise more funds at a higher price to repay debt or to finance ground development and/or player purchases.
For the time being the latter is unnecessary. The first quarter results last November confounded the pessimists who were forecasting a loss. Together with internally generated funds, the debt was reduced from £437 million to £360 million.
There seems little doubt that it will fall again this quarter even if Sir Alex has to make a down payment on Wilfried Zaha in January.
There is massive and rapidly growing commercial revenue, such as the eye-watering £350 million Chevrolet deal. Together with the new Sky contract which promises a minimum of £60 million per club and possibly up to £90 million, United can comfortably expect to be profitable and cash-flow generative again this year.