Glazer's big score
Billionaire dealmaker
By Andy Serwer

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Malcolm Glazer has been trying to buy England's Manchester United soccer team since the fall of 2003 but was long stymied by reluctant shareholders, never mind hostile fans and bad press. All parties were concerned that the diminutive, bearded owner of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers would saddle Britain's version of the New York Yankees with an excessive amount of debt. Then suddenly, one day in May, Glazer was able to spring the lock to Man U and its beloved Old Trafford stadium. How? More money of course. Man U, which is publicly traded and arguably the most famous sports team in the world, was valued at $1.3 billion. Glazer gained control by bidding nearly $1.5 billion, making it the most valuable sports franchise in the world--far more than the roughly billion dollars each the Yankees and the Washington Redskins are estimated to be worth. Glazer, investing along with three U.S. hedge funds, agreed to attach millions less debt to the team than he originally proposed. The details of how he'll finance the deal should be revealed soon, when he'll have to send offering documents to shareholders. Look for Glazer to expand Man U's marketing reach to Asia and North America. Unlike the NFL, which controls much of a team's marketing, British owners have freedom to license everything from TV rights to teddy bears (replete with red Man U scarf, of course). If Glazer has his way, someday we'll call the Yankees America's version of Man U. -- Andy Serwer