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LONDON / PARIS, March 3 (Reuters) – The Belgian football club Bruges (Club Brugge NV) is planning an IPO on the Brussels stock market, it said on Wednesday in the first action of a Belgian club.
The club has submitted an “intention to float”, signaling the launch of the IPO, and intends to list an unpublished percentage of the company on Euronext Brussels, according to a statement to investors seen by Reuters.
Grizzly Sports NV, a vehicle that will be owned by major shareholders Bart Verhaeghe, Vincent Mannaert, Jan Boone and Peter Vanhecke, is the selling shareholder in the transaction.
They have a total holding of 94.34% before the sale and no new shares will be issued as part of the deal, says the club’s statement, which means that it will not raise new funds through the listing.
“This is a resume trade,” said a source close to the deal. “Investors are eager to enter this type of stock when the COVID-19 crisis reaches its final stages and a resumption of the stadium on the horizon.
“There is a great demand for value stocks, and I think that’s where this is positioned.”
Bruges, currently the leader in Belgium’s best league, was founded in 1891 and has won 16 first division titles.
It is also regular in European competitions, although Belgium’s automatic place in the Champions League group stage may be in jeopardy after the elimination of Bruges and Antwerp in the Europa League’s 32 round.
A handful of European football clubs already have stock exchange listings. Juventus in Italy, Borussia Dortmund in Germany and the Dutch team Ajax are high-profile examples, while England’s Manchester United were listed in New York in 2012.
New listings have been rare in recent years, although football funding has aroused great investor interest recently, with private equity firms increasingly wanting to invest in sports leagues and clubs struggling with revenue losses in the face of COVID-19 restrictions.
Berenberg, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan are global coordinators for the Brygge deal and joint bookrunners with Belfius Bank. (Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Sudip Kar-Gupta Further reporting by Benoit Van Overstraetan and Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels Edited by Keith Weir and David Goodman)