Manchester United's Singapore share sale cleared
It was no surprise that Manchester United received approval from the Singapore Stock Exchange today to launch their $1bn (£650m) share sell off.
The decision was always going to be a formality.
But what the club must now decide is whether they can realistically raise the money they are seeking to help reduce their debts (net debt is just over £300m according to the most recent set of accounts). Although details of United's plans are sketchy to say the least - they haven't even publically admitted any of this is happening - there are already questions over the valuation.
The club's owners, the Glazer family, are aiming to raise £650m from selling off between 25% and 30%. That values United at more than £2bn. City sources say this is way too ambitious.
A public listing in Singapore will bring the reigning league champions closer to their legions of fans in Southeast Asia. Photo AFP
The other big problem for United is the turmoil in global stock markets. This could force the Glazers to reconsider at least the timing, but then United and football have continually bucked the economic trend and the message this week from sources close to the deal is that it was full steam ahead. There is no doubt there will be a number of wealthy foreign tycoons eagerly anticipating the opportunity to buy a large chunk of the world's most valuable sports brand.
So what happens now?
United can now start discreetly marketing the share offering. This will start with presentations to what are known as "cornerstone investors" or big banks and financial institutions who are likely to take the lion's share of the offering when it eventually comes to market.
A global roadshow will then take place with United's executives setting out the vision for the future of the business. The final step would see the publication of a prospectus and a public offering to retail investors (you and me).
Singapore's Stock Exchange regulations require all companies granted approval to float to launch their initial public offering (IPO) within six months of their last set of audited accounts.
The club announced their full year accounts to the end of June earlier this month, which means they have until the end of the year to get the float away. That has always been the timeframe being considered by United with the end of November the target date.
But even if they miss that deadline then all they would need to do is re-market the offer based on an up to date set of audited accounts for the end of 2011.