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Man Utd Execs Prepare To Ring NY Opening Bell

(c) Sky News 2012

Manchester United executives are about to ring the bell to start trading on Wall Street, as the club begins its flotation on the New York Stock Exchange.

Manchester United's executive co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer and chief executive David Gill are expected to be on the balcony.

Glazer family patriarch Malcolm Glazer is not likely to appear, however executive vice chairman will be at the ceremony in New York (Frankfurt: A0DKRK - news) 's financial heart.

Manchester United have confirmed that neither Sir Alex Ferguson nor any players will be on the balcony for the traditional opening ceremony.

The ritual comes amid a $14 (£9) per share opening price for the football club's stock has been set significantly below expectations and would see $233.2m (£149.1m) raised from the sale of 16.7 million shares, about $100m less than predicted.

The price, which is lower than the $16 to $20 the club had been hoping for, leaves the club valued at $2.3bn (£1.5bn) - much lower than the up to $3.3bn (£2.1bn) the club and its owners, the Glazer family, were expecting.

The US-based family failed to garner sufficient demand in previous efforts to sell shares on Asian exchanges in Hong Kong and Singapore, where the team garners huge support.

Analysts at data provider Morningstar (NasdaqGS: MORN - news) earlier told the Financial Times that $10 per share would be a fair value, adding: "Shares could trade at a significant premium to our fair value estimate if the market values the soccer team in line with other successful sports franchises."

Proceeds from the initial public offering (IPO) will be used to pay down some of the 134-year-old club's debt, which was last reported at more than £400m.

Although the listing has been planned for some time, the Glazer family originally claimed all the proceeds would go towards United (Toronto: UNC.TO - news) 's debt, angering fans.

A successful IPO would reportedly result in investors owning 42% of the shares available but only carrying voting rights of 1.3%.

Earlier this month, a leading Manchester United fans' group called for a boycott of the club's expanding portfolio of sponsors in protest at the planned flotation.

A statement from the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) read: "The Manchester United Supporters Trust has today called for a worldwide boycott of Manchester United sponsors' products, with support across the UK, Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) , Asia and the US.

"The boycott strategy is intended to send a loud and clear message to the Glazer family and club sponsors that, without the support and purchasing power of the fans, the global strength of the Manchester United brand doesn't actually exist."

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