Manchester United: Worth $3.3 Billion, It's World's Most Valuable Sports Gem

Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013 09:22 AM

By Dale Eisinger

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The Manchester United soccer team became the first sports organization in the world to be worth $3 billion, Forbes Magazine reported. Thanks to a boost in the English soccer team's stock, the highly decorated team has become the most valued, publicly traded team.

After a poor initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange last August, the team's stock has rebounded to even outperform the S&P 500. Manchester United stocks were last trading at just below $17 a share, making the organization worth around $3.3 billion globally.

That puts the 19-time English soccer champions well ahead, financially, of the world's second most valuable sports team. The Dallas Cowboys are valued at around $2.1 billion dollars. Third? The New York Yankees valued by Forbes at around $1.7 billion as of 2011.

Forbes reported that the surge in Manchester stock price came from new sponsorship contracts with the team, as well as the consistent payouts within the Champions League and English Premier League, in which Manchester United sits currently at first place.

The team is owned by the Glazer family, which kept a hold on the majority of shares after the company went public. "Legendary" investor George Soros also owns a large stake in United.

Public investment in sports teams is generally considered a foreign idea to most Americans, though sports franchises have sold shares of stock for years as parts of larger companies.

The Green Bay Packers issue stock that can't appreciate or be sold. The Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Indians have also been publicly traded companies at one point or another, but were rarely seen as a "good" investment. In Europe, sports teams are often publicly traded, though rarely on the NYSE.

Manchester United claims to have 659 million worldwide followers, more than twice the population of the United States. The team's Facebook page has 30 million likes.

According to a Man. U. investor relations site, the team reached 4 billion people, averaging 49 million viewers per game across 211 countries.

In June of last year, the company decided to move the team's IPO from the Singapore market to the NYSE.

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