NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of soccer club Manchester United made their public debut Friday, edging up slightly as shareholders' enthusiasm for the celebrated team was offset by worry about its debt load and financial performance.
Its shares opened at $14.05 on the New York Stock Exchange, a nickel per share higher than they were priced at by the underwriters late Thursday. The shares trade under the MANU ticker symbol.
The stock had been expected to be priced at between $16 and $20 per share.
The $14 per share price still valued the club at $2.3 billion, slightly higher than the record $2 billion paid for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team earlier this year.
The 134-year-old soccer club expects to make $110.3 million from its offering of 8.3 million shares. It will use $101.7 million to pay down senior notes. The Glazer family, which owns the team, is selling another 8.3 million shares separately.
The family's 2005 leveraged takeover was valued at $1.47 billion, much of it borrowed. United carried 416.7 million pounds ($666.2 million) in debt as of March 31. It had no debt when it was bought by the Glazer family in 2005.
The Glazers are a U.S. family who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team. Malcolm Glazer is CEO of First Allied Corp., a holding company with many business interests. His two sons Avram and Joel are co-chairmen of Manchester United.
After the stock offering, the Glazers will keep control of the team through Class B shares with 10 times the voting power of the stock that would be sold to the public.
The team is one of the most celebrated in the world. It claims 659 million followers and 26.9 million Facebook fans. It is especially popular in Asia, where its games are televised and its replica shirts and other products are huge sellers. But analysts are more skeptical when it comes to how viable as a financial commodity the team known as The Red Devils will be, because it is not a high-growth company like a tech startup and is heavily in debt.
The IPO market has been chilled since Facebook's disappointing debut in May. Another public offering expected from Carl's Jr. parent CKE Inc. on Friday was postponed.
Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin' Brands debuted below its expected offering price Wednesday. On Friday, shares were up 18 cents at $13.67 in morning trading, 24 percent higher than its IPO opening price of $11 per share.