UPDATE 1-Belgian soccer club Bruges plans to list shares on stock market | Reuters

Belgian soccer club Bruges (Club Brugge NV) is planning to list its shares on the Brussels stock market, the club said on Wednesday, in what would be a rare initial public offering (IPO) from a team in Europe in recent years.

The club has filed its “intention to float” -- which signals the launch of the IPO process -- and intends to list an undisclosed percentage of the company on the Euronext Brussels exchange, 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 combined shareholding of 94.34% prior to the offering, the announcement said. No new shares will be issued as part of the deal, meaning the club itself will not be raising any fresh funds through the listing.

Bruges, currently first in Belgium’s top league, was founded in 1891 and has won 16 Belgian first division league titles.

A handful of European football clubs have stock market listings. Juventus in Italy, Borussia Dortmund in Germany and Dutch team Ajax are high profile examples, while England’s Manchester United listed in New York in 2012.

Soccer financing has attracted plenty of investor interest recently, with private equity firms increasingly keen to invest in sports leagues and clubs who are battling with revenue losses due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Berenberg, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan are global coordinators on the Bruges deal and joint bookrunners along with Belfius Bank. (Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Additional reporting by Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Keith Weir)

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