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General Motors Tightens Pact With Manchester United

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General Motors (NYSE: GM) has taken its relationship with Manchester United Football Club one step further by agreeing to be the official shirt sponsor of the club starting in 2014. The value of the deal remains undisclosed, however ESPN reports that it is larger than the existing deal with Aon (NYSE: AON), valued around $31 million.

GM had already struck a deal with the world's most popular soccer team through its Chevrolet brand, as Chevrolet was named the official vehicle brand of the club only six weeks ago. Manchester United's commercial director Richard Arnold told the club's official website: "This is a fantastic, long-term deal for the club. We have been partners with Chevrolet for only six weeks, but already they have produced some fantastic ideas that will benefit both the partnership and our 659 million followers around the world."

The news comes ahead of the much anticipated IPO of the world's most famous soccer club. The current owners, the Glazier family, are attempting to sell partial ownership of the club in a public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in order to pay off some of the club's massive debt load. The deal is also a large move for General Motors, following the resignation of its marketing chief.

By partnering with General Motors, Manchester United could be trying to expand its fan base into the United States ahead of its offering in New York. Some investors would consider buying the equity in the club as a financial decision however fans may invest simply as a novelty item. The IPO is expected either at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013.

The IPO efforts from Manchester United come after failed listings in both Hong Kong and Singapore, as market volatility in Asia dissuaded the owners from selling. The Glazier family was trying to tap into the large and growing fan base in Asia for its IPO, however they have since opted for a more traditional listing in New York. Prior to the buyout in 2005, Manchester United was traded on the London Stock Exchange.

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