Speculation is rife that the Glazer family will not be diluting their voting rights with Manchester United planning to raise up to two-thirds of a planned $1 billion initial public offering in Singapore through non-voting preferences shares. The American owners could retain up to 88 per cent of voting rights and as such would retain majority ownership.
The Premier League champions are selling around a third of the equity in the club, which is valued at about $3 billion but only 12 per cent in ordinary shares with full voting rights. It is reported that the balance of the shares would be in the form of non-voting perpetual preference stock without dividend guarantees or the right to sell the shares back to the club both common features of preference share issues.
However, the preference shares would rank ahead of the ordinary shares in the event of an insolvency, potentially making them attractive to institutions such as Temasek, the Singapore state investment agency, which is considering taking a significant stake.
The two classes of shares would be sold as a package, although the split has not been finalised. One scenario is that each ordinary share might be packaged with one preference share of double the value, putting a total of 36 per cent of the equity on sale.