Man Utd on lookout for acquisitions in Far East

Manchester United, the UK's best-supported football club, is understood to be eyeing up acquisitions in the Far East. Speculation is mounting that it is set to become the first English club to buy or take a stake in a foreign football club.

It is believed to be scouring Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia for targets. It would also love to tap into the Chinese market, where it recently went on tour and where the game is rapidly growing in popularity

In the past few weeks United has appointed Hong Kong-based HSBC investment bank as advisers, a move that has been interpreted by observers as a forerunner to acquisitions.

"You don't employ corporate financiers for nothing. You employ them to look for acquisitions. The Far East is an obvious place to look," said one source.

Vinay Bedi, a football analyst with Wise Speke, believes United is most likely to lead the way among British clubs seeking to expand abroad.

"Acquisitions in the Far East are very possible in due course for many of the leading Premiership clubs. I would not be surprised if Manchester United was at the forefront of that initiative," he said yesterday.

United's chief executive, Martin Edwards, has already made it clear that he wants to expand the club's operations in the Far East. He recently employed Peter Kenyon, a former executive at United's kit sponsors, Umbro, as deputy chief executive to oversee global expansion.

The club has just opened an office and shop in China, from where it will co-ordinate its Far East operations. It already has shops in Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, where it is marketing its brands heavily.

If these prove a success it plans to roll out stores across the Far East. Sources suggest buying a club in the Far East would be a natural way to boost merchandise sales in these stores.

"It is no secret that we are interested in the Far East. We are looking at opportunities over there," a spokesman for United said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Mr Edwards has raised more than pounds 2.9m by selling 405,000 shares in the club. Family trusts controlled by Mr Edwards have also sold 500,000 shares for pounds 3.25m. Mr Edwards, who once held 24 per cent of the club, has gradually been reducing his stake over the past few years and now owns less than 15 per cent.

It is understood he sold the shares to satisfy the demand for new stock from one large institution. He is believed to have sold the shares in the family trusts on advice that the trusts' assets were too heavily reliant on United's share price.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Property Underwriter

£70-90,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client a London Market Insurer are seeking a Pro...

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week