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Manchester United would join a host of luxury brands on Asian stock exchanges

Singapore exchange has been wooing international companies as part of its ‘Asian Gateway’ strategy

Manchester United would become the latest, and perhaps best known, international brand to list on an Asian exchange. Just as most of the world’s biggest mining companies are listed in London, and the biggest technology companies choose Wall Street, so international consumer brands are increasingly looking east.

Hong Kong has become the listing vehicle of choice for luxury international consumer brands such as Prada and cosmetics group L’Occitane.

But the smaller Singapore exchange has aggressively wooed international companies as part of an attempt to position as a global exchange under its Asian Gateway strategy. A Manchester United IPO (initial public offering) would be seen as its biggest coup yet. By the end of last year, 321 foreign companies were on the SFX, representing 47% of the listed capital.

There was surprise among bankers yesterday that Singapore looked likely to be chosen by the Glazers and their advisers ahead of Hong Kong, but some speculated that this might be because Premier League clubs have found it hard to make headway in China while the wider growth story in Asia is more attractive. Others said regulatory considerations might have been a factor.

Under the Glazers’ ownership, Manchester United have forged ahead of their rivals in growing global revenues.

The club has been looking for new offices in the region to capitalise on its estimated supporter base of 190 million and boost its commercial operations. Manchester United’s segmented sponsorship approach is a model that other clubs are now trying to copy, doing regional deals in a range of categories.

The club, which like its Premier League rivals tends to alternate its pre-season brand-building tours between the US and Asia, is due to return to the Far East next summer.

“The multitude of local events we run with global and local partners, and a prospective tour of Asia in 2012, necessitate expanding our footprint both with people and office space,” United said recently . “This is consistent with the huge appeal of Manchester United in the region, born out of nearly 40 years of visiting.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds