US investment firm builds up stake in Man United

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 11, 2014 at 11:45 am •  Published: March 11, 2014
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LONDON (AP) — U.S. investment firm Baron Capital has bought nearly a quarter of all publicly-traded shares in New York-listed English soccer club Manchester United PLC.

In 2012, the Glazer family sold 10 percent of its holding in Manchester United via a stock listing. A filing Monday on the Securities and Exchange Commission showed Baron Capital now owns around 24 percent of those shares, leaving it with an overall stake of about 2.5 percent.

Because the Glazers, who also own the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, control 90 percent of the shares and even more of the voting shares, Baron's move is not being viewed as a bid to secure a controlling interest in the club. Though Baron refused to comment, it says on its website that it "remains positive" on Manchester United's prospects.

In what is proving to be a volatile session, Manchester United shares were down 0.9 percent early Tuesday afternoon New York time at $15.71. The company has a market value of around $2.6 billion.

London-based financial analyst Andy Green, who writes a blog on football finance and advises the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, said Baron Capital's move appeared to be purely an investment strategy.

"This is absolutely not the start of any takeover," said Green. "You could buy all the shares available on the stock market and you would still only have 10 percent of the club and about 1.3 percent of the votes .... They have a reputation as a long-term investment company."