The English Premier League's Manchester United F.C. has become the first franchise of any sport valued at $3 billion worldwide, according to a report by Mike Ozanian of Forbes on Monday.
Shares of [United], which were offered to the public last August at $14, did poorly at first but have soared the past few days. Last seen at just under $17, Manchester United’s stock has outperformed the S&P 500 since its IPO and made the controlling Glazer family and legendary investor George Soros...wealthier.
Ozanian notes that the recent increase in stock price has pushed the club's value to over $3.3 billion in enterprise value, which factors in equity plus debt.
ESPN's Paul Carr noted how big the gap is between the Red Devils and the next highest-valued franchise, the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys:
Forbes says Manchester United is worth $3.3 billion, 57% more than 2nd-best Dallas Cowboys: onforb.es/SZtYmj— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) January 28, 2013
The three-dollar increase since its initial public offering is a testament to how well Sir Alex Ferguson's club has performed this season—and the confidence inspired by having billionaire investor George Soros on board as a minority owner. Soros' net worth was estimated at approximately $19 billion in September of 2012, according to Forbes.
United sit atop the EPL table, five points ahead of crosstown rival Manchester City. The acquisition of Robin van Persie has bolstered the attack, as the exciting Red Devils lead the Premier League with 57 goals in just 23 matches in 2012-13.
Which major sport will produce the next $3 billion franchise?
As Ozanian explains, United's stock dropped in the first quarter due to a decline in television revenue, but it has rebounded largely thanks to new sponsorship deals with Japanese paint manufacturer Kansai (via SportsProMedia.com) and China Construction Bank.
The Red Devils' stock should only improve should they win the EPL trophy and the Champions League this year—both of which would result in massive payouts and more publicity for the prolific club.