May 27, 2024

DealBook: Soros Acquires Stake in Manchester United

Manchester United, the English soccer team, began its season on Monday with a 1-0 loss to Everton. But Manchester United, the newly public company, has received a big thumbs up from one of the world’s most famous investors.

George Soros, the hedge fund billionaire, has taken a 7.85 percent stake in the team, acquiring 3.1 million of the Class A shares, according to a securities filing on Monday. The investment is a passive stake, held without the purpose of trying to change the company.

The soccer team, champions of England, 19 times in its 134-year history, went public on the New York Stock Exchange on Aug. 10 at $14. On Monday, the shares closed at $13.06.

Regardless of who owns the Class A shares, control of Manchester United is firmly in the hands of Malcolm Glazer and his family, who also own the National Football League team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The American Glazer family holds Class B shares of Manchester United, which have 10 votes apiece, compared with Class A’s one vote apiece.

This is not the first dalliance with professional soccer for Mr. Soros, 82, who recently announced his engagement to Tamiko Bolton. The financier, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $14.5 billion, had owned DC United, the Washington franchise of Major League Soccer, for several years after the league began in 1996. And in 2008, he had also reportedly been in talks to acquire the Italian club A.S. Roma before pulling out.

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