Friday, 15 October 2010

United’s 2009/10 results: Understanding the cash flow




Apologies in advance for the slightly technical nature of this post. It is an analysis of the cash flow dynamics in United's business. It is not trying to make a political point, rather to help those without a financial background get their heads around what is happening and what the outlook is for the next few years. Please email me if you require any clarification on the more technical aspects and I'll endeavour to reply.


The club had a lot of debt (£522m) and a lot of cash in the bank (£164m) at the 30th June. The source of the debt is obvious, the original takeover and the subsequent refinancings in 2006 and most recently in January 2010 when the "Senior Secured Notes" (aka "bonds") were issued. The cash in the bank has come from several sources which I describe below.


The reason all this is important (even if it is quite technical) is because not all the cash reported is "available", some of it will be needed to pay costs during the season when less cash flows in. In addition, the Glazers have large and growing "entitlements" to take dividends out of the club. They have not done so as yet, but supporters should be aware what impact taking up these rights would have on the bank balance. Finally, most agree the ageing squad will need investment in the coming years, probably more than the £31m spent in the 2009/10 season. By understanding the cash dynamics, people can reach their own conclusions about whether high investment and dividend payments are compatible.

Where has this £163m come from?

The "seasonal" effect and the need for a "buffer"
Football clubs receive a lot of money in the summer from season tickets and seasonal hospitality sales but "recognise" this income in the profit and loss account as games are played. In addition, a high proportion of TV money is paid at the end of the season. At the 30th June, the amount received from season ticket and executive sales for the 2010/11 season was £52m (interestingly £2m lower than the previous year). Clubs' costs are incurred more evenly over the year (over 70% of costs are wages). This means that there is a substantial seasonal difference between when cash is received (mainly in the April to June quarter) and when profits are recognised (more evenly but with the October to December quarter with the most home games being the most important).


With the results just published, we can see for the first time how these seasonal effects impact on cash flow over each quarter of the financial year (the club has only had to report quarterly since the bond issue). The  seasonality can be seen in the pie charts below which compare how EBITDA is split and how operating cash flow (EBITDA + changes in working capital) is split. The difference is very, very pronounced, with over 70% of cash (remember this is before transfers, interest and spending on the stadium) coming in the final three months of the year, three months that only generate 19% of the year's operating profit.




So United has its highest cash balance at the end of the financial year in June. In fact the cash balance actually fell in each of the first three quarters of the year, reaching a low point of being down £55m on the year at the end of March (note the cash draw down excluding changes in borrowing was a still significant £38.5m at the end of Q3):



This seasonality explains why United have a history of holding substantial cash balances at the end of each season and has occasionally had to use its "Revolving Credit Facility" ("RCF"), a sort of overdraft facility. Since the bond issue in January, the club's current RCF is £75m which is available to cover short-term cash requirements. The bond prospectus gives some details about the RCF, including that it costs c. 3-4.5% above LIBOR (currently around 1%). More importantly, the RCF has a five day "clean down" to £25m each year. This means the club has to reduce the drawn balance of the facility to a maximum of £25m for at least five days a year. This is to ensure the facility is used for short term borrowing, not long term investment.


The table below shows the season end cash balance over the last few years (and also what percentage of turnover that represented at the time).


As the table shows, large cash balances are the norm for United (except when there is a one off hit to cash such as Lazio failing to pay for Stam in 2002 or the building work on the quadrants in 2006). From 2003 to 2009 (and excluding the quadrant impacted 2006), United had balances averaging £48m at its year end. So what changed in 2009 and 2010?



Cash Boost No.1 The Aon and other commercial upfront payments.
United negotiated a strange but useful pre-payment when it did the sponsorship deal with Aon in June 2009. Aon agreed to pay £35.9m (45%) of the £80m four year deal upfront and a year before the sponsorship started. This boosted the 2008/09 and 2009/10 cash balances, indeed it represents 24% of the 2008/09 closing balance and 22% of the 2009/10 balance. Such prepayments along with season ticket money received for the following season are called "deferred income" in the accounts. Deferred income from commercial contracts totalled £65.7m at 30th June 2010, up £8.2m on the previous year. So United is sitting on £65.7m of cash from various sponsors and partners for sponsorship that has yet to happen. That represents 40% of the club's cash balance at 30th June 2010.

This cash is great for the club of course, but as time goes on, will have the effect of reducing the club's cash flow compared to its profits. In each of the next four years, the club will book c. £20m of Aon related revenue (and profits as the costs of being sponsored are virtually zero) but will only receive £11m in cash (the other 45% having already been paid). On the Aon contract alone therefore, operating cash flow will be c. £9m a year lower than operating profit each year. Add in the other £29.8m of commercial deferred income and the hit to cash flow could be even greater (although we do not know any details of the other commercial prepayments).


Cash Boost No.2 Ronaldo and other transfers
The existence and potential use of "the Ronaldo money" has been a hot topic ever since he his sale to Real Madrid was announced on 11th June 2009. The £80m received by United days before the end of the 2008/09 financial year represented 53% of that year's closing financial balance. Since that date, the club has spent £44m in cash on players (both new and ongoing payments for players already signed) and received £14m for selling players; a net spend of £31.8m. I think we can safely say therefore that "the Ronaldo money" is still there. It represents 49% of the club's current cash balance.


Cash Boost No.3 Virtually no interest paid between January and June 2010 but some swap costs
Interest on the old bank debt used to be paid quarterly. Interest on the bonds is paid twice a year on 1st February and the 1st August, with the first payment on 1st August 2010. The cash flow statement for the period January to June 2010 therefore includes virtually no interest actually being paid (the interest is charged to the profit and loss account of course). The £15.2m of "interest" in the cash flow statement actually refers to a £12.7m payment on the swap closure and interest on the "Alderley Mortgage" taken out to buy the freight terminal next to Old Trafford. In future years around £45m (depending on exchange rates) will be paid out in cash each year and another c. £5m for swap costs. So in the 30th June 2010 cash balance is a one-off interest rate holiday of c. £10m (c. £22m bond interest which would "normally" be paid in the second half of the year minus the large swap cost).


The outlook for the club's cash position
Movements in cash flow can be divided into a series of categories, some of which are described above. Of primary importance of course are the cash profits (EBITDA) a business makes. I am going to deliberately leave the outlook for profits for another day, and focus on the other dynamics at work further down the cash flow statement. The following table shows the actual cash movements in some detail in 2008/09 and 2009/10 and my comments on the outlook (assuming flat EBITDA).








Thinking about dividends and the squad

United is a great business, and as the table above shows, if profits just remain flat, will still generate around £14m of cash next year (assuming a net £30m is spent on transfers). That £14m is before dividends, and in 2009/10 of course the Glazers did not take any of the £95m in dividends to which they were entitled.
Assuming flat profits, by the end of the financial year 2010/11 the dividend entitlement will have grown by another £28m. In total the entitlement will be £123m. Obviously if all this was paid, the net cash flow in the model above would be a £109m outflow not a £14m inflow. This would take the cash balance at the club down to around £55m, totally swallowing up the one-off benefits of the Aon prepayment and the Ronaldo money. The club's cash balance would be back to where it has been in previous years, the amount needed to cover seasonal fluctuations. If that wasn't enough, the ongoing dividend entitlement (roughly 50% of EBITDA minus interest) would make the club cash negative at current profitability.

Of course the vast majority of supporters don't spend a moment thinking about the year-end cash position of the club, but do spend time wondering what investment will be needed to keep our squad competitive in future years as Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Van de Sar, potentially Ferdinand and probably Hargreaves bow out.
I think the questions supporters need to ask are this:

    Will the Glazers take the £95m (soon to rise to c. £123m) in dividends they are "entitled to"?
and if they do....
    Will there be enough be in the kitty to adequately replace our ageing squad in the year or two ahead?

  
LUHG

40 comments:

Morten said...

Thanks for a great walk through.

One question: Did the club establish a £75M credit facility in conjunction with the bond issue? If so, am I right in thinking the Glazer could take out £95M (or £123) leaving the club comfortably able to fund investments in the squad to the tune of at least £100M over the next two years.

andersred said...

Hi Morten,

Yes there is a new £75m RCF, but it has a minimum five day annual clean down of £25m so it is not long-term financing, it is designed for the seasonal ebb and flow described above.

Plus of course it is more debt and costs (at post dividend leverage ratios) around £3-4m per annum if fully drawn.

Given the strong profits and the windfalls I describe it is pretty extraordinary that we are even contemplating needing to use the RCF to buy players!

anders

andersred said...

Edit: that should be annual clean down TO £25m not OF £25m. That's an important difference.

anders

Jack said...

I don't understand why are they stock piling cash, it is not making any sense.

Anonymous said...

Jack said...
"I don't understand why are they stock piling cash, it is not making any sense."

Perhaps because they are terrified of the fan backlash such an act would almost certainly trigger, and the consequences to their already marginal business model?

Why would it trigger such a response?

Because it would FINALLY signal the beginning of their actions (rather than merely intentions, which have been obvious for years) to strip United of great thumping wagon-loads of cash for their own personal enrichment.

That day will come soon enough and for the Glazers, it - explaining to fans why they've just trotted off with maybe £100 million of what should have been the clubs' cash - represents one of their biggest challenges.

I can't wait for that explanation...

In short; they haven't taken their 'entitlements' yet because they're very scared of the reaction.

Which is fair enough, because they have every right to be scared.

OnlyaRed

Anonymous said...

So are you saying the 160 million in the bank is earning 1.1% interest?
Also please clarify. Are your quarters, actual quarters or financial year quarters. Does Q4 end 30/6 or 31/12?

Anonymous said...

Also will it be blatantly obvious when this money starts to shift out of United?
Obviously the gimps will be using smoke and mirrors techniques but will someone be able to spot this pretty much straight away or will we need to wait until the next set of results to be published whenever that might be?

Darren. said...

Anony

The Qs referred to are financial year Quarters. Q4 is the three months ending 30th June. Q1 starts 1st July.

It should be obvious if/when they start extracting cash, it should be shown in the MU Finance reports which are published every quarter.

andersred said...

Darren is absolutely correct.

The 1.1% is estimated by taking the interest received as a percentage of the average of the opening and closing cash balances.

anders

John said...

Excellent Post as always,very informative and Plane and Simple.
Keep up the Great work and Ignore Red Devil or whatever you call that Clown

ja said...

So they are earning 1.1% interest on 160 million and paying 16.25% on the PIKs. Business geniuses

Anonymous said...

I actually understood that!

Thanks, Anders. Keep up the good fight

Anonymous said...

Why should we care about this issue anymore? The Glazers will do what they want, when they what. It is their business, and they can take the money out legally as they see fit.

The Premier League sold its soul along time ago e.g. Sky and oversea money, PLCs, overseas owners pumping vile amounts of money into the game.

The "good old days" are sadly gone from the top tier of English football. I would recommend that the people should turn their attention to the lower leagues where the true heart of English football can still be found in many quarters.

Regards,

Greville

Anonymous said...

Fair points Greville however a lot of people have been United followers since day 1 and it gets in your blood and you just can't then switch off that loyalty and support/watch some other team.

Morten said...

Just a follow up on my RCF comment.

The point was not using the RCF to buy players, but as a buffer. Assuming everything stays the same: You say that after the dividend and £30M 'normal' player purchase this season, there will be £55M in cash end June 2011. Then add another £14M (pre div CF for the year) + £30M (assumed normal transfer activity) for 2011/12, there is £130M cash to spend (£55M + £14M + £30M*2) over the next two seasons.

So, as I see it, the club can pay the dividend, then over the next two seasons, use the 'normal' £60M to purchase players, plus, say £50M, to renew the squad, and still have £20M in the bank. A bit low, but then the RCF is the buffer.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Fair points Greville however a lot of people have been United followers since day 1 and it gets in your blood and you just can't then switch off that loyalty and support/watch some other team."

Understand that but sometimes you sometime have to look for something different OR accept the status quo OR provoke a revolution of some kind to overtopple the existing regime (I do not class the Red Knights escapade in this category). Given the English nature I would venture the latter will not happen.

The origins of these problems started with the oleaginous parasites that infest the Premier League and the FA, who were happy to bend over for the money but did nothing and continue to do nothing to protect the integrity of the game.

Regards,

Greville

Steve said...

The situation, as I see it, is a little bit more opaque due to the Uefa FFP rules. The interest on the PiKs is included in the calculations together with future dividends plus if you factor in any large expenditure on player transfers (assuming the money is there) this could significantly increase player amortisation costs.
Given the large interest payments we have to meet all the above could vastly reduce our ability to strengthen the squad.

Anonymous said...

@Anders
Thanks very much for this analysis.
To me this suggests the Glazers will have 177m to play with which suggests that the 70m carve-out is pretty much a certainty, no?

Anonymous said...

Anders

Superb summary as ever. Following the Liverpool shambles there seems to be a mainstream realisation of the true nature of a leveraged takeover, and now calls for 'something to be done'.
Would making acquisition debt interest payments liable for corporation tax, be game changing for future leveraged buyouts and destroy the Glazer business plans?

Anonymous said...

Fine work Anders.

A question: When can 'annual' dividends be taken? I am not even sure they have to be taken yearly. I believe they can be taken over a shorter period. Waiting till the YE and earning at 1.1% doen't make sense if you can tackle the pik at 16.25%(even if you magnify the seasonality effect by doing so).

I find it quite sad that folks are more interested in the mechanics of a credit facility than in the event that might give rise to its use. 123m gone but, hey, look at that 75m RCF. Wow!

So what would the 'Glazer tax' be (in total) in the event of 123m leaving the club? About 173m this year- but, to give then their dues, we do benefit from quick decision making!

As for the RCF: It is equivalent in amount (credit limit) to the 'Ronaldo money' but certainly not in use. It is not designed for heavy player expenditure; a maxed-out RCF needs at least 50m cash in bank at peak working capital time (Q4/Q1), but its paydown burns a hole in cash reserves thus requiring its comtinued use in subsequent periods. To nullify it, you would need positive cash generation and, assuming flatish EBITDA going forward, this will not happen if the Glazers take their annual dividend entitlement.

I think the RCF will be used as an RCF- a short term liquidity tool and that's about it.

Anonymous said...

Well done Anders on an excellent effort to explain to the financial layman. It's good to see that you are adhering more to the ethics base of your profession.

For the layman, I have a few issues for them to consider.

It is asserted that if not for the capital stucture, ticket prices could be lower and that ticket prices are dictated somehow by the capital structure. To verify this empiracally, looking at other PL clubs ticket prices and the ticket price rises over the last 20 years, it doesn't seem true. Football ticket prices in general have risen to current levels regardless of the capital structure of each club.

As a side, if the club did subsidise ticket prices, how would you allocate the tickets? Would you have an elite membership system like a snob's country club based on how long you have held a season ticket? To me, it is important to maintain the local base of the support but equally important to allow every fan a chance to see the team play at OT. And whilst the supply and demand system isn't ideal by a long chalk, it does work in a kind of fair way. Fans boycott, ticket prices are lowered. Fans at each game increase because of lwoer prices, price increases. The capital structure of the club doesn't dictate ticket prices, in fact the total opposite is true, that it seems to be a slave to supply and demand of tickets.

It is also said that the capital structure dictates the level of player investment. Well, surely the measure of success of player investment is results on the pitch and I think anyone but a die hard Glazer protesting fan will agree we have been very successful and are poised to do very well. There is no point spending hundreds of millions each year on new players when there is no guarantee that these new players will increase the performance of the team by some corresponding substantial amount. And as a business, you don't want such regular capital expenditure. When and if the club becomes a community asset, then fine to do that. Even if we did spend that kind of money, it would take the shine off any success we have, much like the criticism that the bitters get now even before they won anything.

Anyway, there is nothing that can be done on getting the Glazers out, so just support the team and enjoy the football.

ja said...

Re anonymous above, yes there is no denying the team has done well, which many would argue was despite the Glazers, and had a couple more signings made last summer, and United could have achieved 4 in a row. But that is moot, your second claim that the team is 'poised to do very well' is much more wishful thinking. The team is falling behind Chelsea - 5 points already by October, City are coming up the rails and United are reliant on hopeful unproven cheap punts and well past their prime faithful servants.
To also say there is nothing to be done about getting the Glazers out is terribly defeatist. In the first instance, the threatened boycott certainly pressured them into freezing prices this season and the ongoing campaign may well be dissuading them from hoovering the bank account to pay the PIKs. They can be driven out if they cant pay their bills, therefore a more comprehensive boycott would work.
Sorry but I am not a defeatist who just accepts having buckets of sh*t poured over my head and being told it is just raining.

Anonymous said...

@Anders
I read somewhere (Redcafe I think) that you had new information which might fundamentally change things at United.

Was it just the 15% vs 20% PIK ownership or are you still waiting to verify with your sources?

Anonymous said...

@Anders
I wonder if your fixed asset cap ex is a bit low?
Was there not talk of a 12m upgrade to Carrington?

Also, do you think the Glazers have ruled out expanding the South Stand?
Surely the revenue earning potential of that would make it feasible?
Or is getting planning permission gonna be impossible?

ja said...

Anonymous, the problem with any south stand expansion is the railway line that cannot be moved (for obvious reasons!). Plus building over it would be on railtrack (or whoever) land. And then buying up property on the other side of the track. So all in all it would be far more expensive than the other stands. Obviously if the Glazers hadnt spunked away 500 million and counting, it would have been a more affordable option.
Plus thanks to the Gs, the ground is rarely full to capacity and the waiting list has gone, and with a big churn in season tickets already doubt if they could readily flush another 20 000 spectators on a regular enough basis to make the figures add up. Dont forget the previous expansion was nothing to do with the Glazers.

Anonymous said...

This is my first post here - congratulations on the detail of your analysis. If I look at this from a marketing background, I see some further dangers.

At the moment the club is probably about as successful as it ever will be in generating revenue from non matchday sources. Hopefully someone has done a stress test with models of declining revenue?

The cash at bank may in part be there to cover a worst case scenario - defaults on transfer fees, non renewal of franchise etc.

The problem with a highly leveraged business is that it becomes hyper sensitive to even small declines in revenue.

If the club does not qualify for the champions league this year then it is possible that it would need some deferred dividends as working capital.

Anonymous said...

@ ja, 14:44

Let's put the 'problem' of developing the south stand both in perspective and to bed.

Cost; £100m? £150m? Hey, even as much as £200m? Expensive, yes. But then we take just one painful glance at the amount spunked by the Glazers - around £450m - and we find that far from developing the south stand being an impossible dream it should have ALREADY been done.

United would now be playing in a sold out 96,000+ OT, with industry-leading on-pitch, financial and long term stability beneifts to match.

In short, we would be virtually untouchable. That is the reality. That is what the Glazers greed has already cost us.

OnlyaRed

Tony said...

I am never sure which Anonymous is which on here.

But I would like to reply to the one who says that nothing can be done about the Glazers. Another thing that can be done is to get behind FC United. Many United fans, without giving up their love of Manchester United, have for the last five years been building a community football club, owned and democratically run by its members. The club seeks not only to develop its football side, but also to be a responsible citizen, developing a programme of community work in Manchester and beyond. This is the model that we are all trying to get to, and if we continue to build it, then it will frighten off not only the Glazers but all the other "get rich quick merchants" looking to make a fast buck out of football.

Ways in which you can support FC United are to get to some games (maybe when United are away or don't have a game). There is a big one coming up next Sunday, 3pm kick off at Gigg Lane Bury. FC play Barrow of the Conference Premier Division in the 4th Qualifying round of the FA Cup. If FC get through, they will be in the first round of the Cup proper, with the prospect of playing a League side, getting on television, prize money, etc. There should be thousands there, and win, lose or draw it will be a big event.

Secondly, you could invest in FC's Community Shares scheme. FC is raising £3.5 million to develop its new ground at Ten Acres Lane, Newton Heath. The Community Shares issue is intended to raise £1.5 million towards that, and is a ground breaking way of raising capital while protecting the democratic ownership structure of the club. Individuals can invest between £200 (less if you contact the club) and £20,000, but on the basis that all members will continue to have only one vote. It's an investment in FC, the regeneration of Newton Heath and the future of football. For further details, follow this link http://www.fc-utd.co.uk/communityshares

Thirdly, if you can't do any of the above, just give something, however small, to our Development Fund. FC fans have already raised more than £300,000 in a Development Fund that will go towards paying some of the rest of the £3.5million that we need for Ten Acres Lane, and will be crucial in allowing us to start building. You can donate at http://fc-utd.co.uk/devfund/

It's not true that "nothing can be done".

TWO UNITEDS BUT THE SOUL IS ONE!

Eugene said...

At the risk of panicking, I wonder whether this last week marks the beginning of Man Utd's decline under the Glazers. Between the pathetic capitulation at Old Trafford against West Brom, and the news (or perhaps rumours at this stage) that Rooney believes his relationship with Ferguson is irreconcilable and hence wishes to leave, it's hard to see how the club will be able to lift itself under the reign of the cash-strapped Glazers.

simpson said...

it's now become reality that
Sir Alex will retire end of this season. and Rooney will Be sold. in january or at end of season.

and glazers will sell the club. if rooney not sold in january then glazers will try to sell the club for higher prize.they will invite offers till May .

they will at least accept around 1 billion pound bid.

club its self not happy with glazers handling of latest situation.

glazers creates latest situation.and they send out reports that's there is unrest between Sir Alex and Rooney.

glazers think Fan's are fool.
they want to tell Fan's that
its manager and player who can't work with each other.

Anonymous said...

@simpson.
I agree they're to blame. They also orchestrated 9/11, the 2005 CL comeback for pool, the credit crunch and other such disasters.
They're pure evil i tells ya.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Liverpool purchase is that is has lowered price expectations for football clubs - especially highly leveraged ones.

I doubt that anyone would pay £1 billion in the current situation.

My guess would be £650 - 800 million.

Anonymous said...

If even Wayne Rooney can work out that United don't have the money to compete to attract the best players, I am now even more worried about United than I have been in the last 5 years :-{

And good comments from Tony regarding FC United.

I am a Manchester United fan, but no longer a 'supporter' as I gave up my Season Tickets 4 years ago.

However, I AM a supporter of FC United. In fact, I am not just a supporter, I am a Member.

MU-FC-UM LUHG

Si, East Manchester said...

Anonymous @ 19:07

I am in exactly the same place as you in how i've approached this last sorry 5 years. FC United is the model that Manchester United should be. If 2,000 fans can get to a stage where they can provide a 5,000 capacity stadium for themselves by sheer determination to see it through then imagine what that could mean for a juggernaut like Manchester United with 100 times the support?

I'd like to add by the way that FC United is probably not appealing to a good number of Utd fans who hate the Glazers and indeed commenton this forum but you can't deny it's got to be the ideal way you'd like Utd to be run.

Tony L said...

Anders, a question for you. Given that the Glazers have already purchased around 20% of the PIKs, do you think there is a possibility that, rather than taking the £70m dividend, they will use their annual £20m-ish dividend to purchase the remaining PIK debt? If they could purchase the remainder for, say, £70m over the next 3 years, that would mean when they do withdraw the £70m from Red Football, it would find its way straight back to their pockets and - potentially - in 2017 they would be owed £200m+ in PIK repayments and interest by United. It would also remove the liability / risk of having this debt secured against their shareholding.

If they could do this, could they then use the debt as security for further borrowing in the States - thus giving them the opportunity to shore up their loss making enterprises with United's profits? And, of course, suddenly leaving United's assets liable for the failure of those businesses, rather than the Glazers themselves?

This, of course, wouldn't be a million miles away from what brought Enron crashing down...

Anonymous said...

I'm not impressed by this analysis. So the Ronaldo cash is still there but you don't want to count it as available for spending because the Glazers *might* take it as a dividend?

When we say that a sum of money is available to spend we mean just that: it is available to spend should they wish to do so. Isn't that all Gill has ever claimed?

Anonymous said...

Hi Anders
That "Loss" that is reported can be easily reduced with a pen and a calculator.It can be reduced to £29m very quickly.Tell the Truth Now Andy,I dont have the Account experience as you and I can see figures that should be exposed for what they are

R Karma said...

What is to stop the Glazers borrowing (personally) against the, let's call it 'accrued dividend entitlement' either to release cash or to repurchase more PIK debt (I imagine they could do this for less than 16.24%!) or perhaps even some of the bond debt hedging these liabilities further. In other words they don't necessarily have to withdraw the dividends which would be highly politically charged to benefit from them in the meantime.

Is there any way of wording a question to Gill which could elicit a response to whether such accrued dividends within the club (he won't discuss their private debts) are being used as such security? Is there a requirement to disclose such a liability?

Cheers (and thanks for your continued efforts!!!)

Anonymous said...

Anders, a question for you. Given that the Glazers have already purchased around 20% of the PIKs, do you think there is a possibility that, rather than taking the £70m dividend, they will use their annual £20m-ish dividend to purchase the remaining PIK debt? If they could purchase the remainder for, say, £70m over the next 3 years, that would mean when they do withdraw the £70m from Red Football, it would find its way straight back to their pockets and - potentially - in 2017 they would be owed £200m+ in PIK repayments and interest by United. It would also remove the liability / risk of having this debt secured against their shareholding.

If they could do this, could they then use the debt as security for further borrowing in the States - thus giving them the opportunity to shore up their loss making enterprises with United's profits? And, of course, suddenly leaving United's assets liable for the failure of those businesses, rather than the Glazers themselves?

This, of course, wouldn't be a million miles away from what brought Enron crashing down...

Cash Flow Manager said...

It is great to read some of the information and feedback, here. I hope to read more ideas in the future!!!