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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat