Raising Finance

Tottenham Hotspur shareholders unlock value of assets held for three years

4 min read

21 March 2016

Former editor

Shareholders in London-based football team Tottenham Hotspur have been able to release the value of their holdings for the first time since the team was last listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in 2012.

Online share trading marketplace Asset Match fascilitated the deals, and reported £33,000 worth of trades in the last week.

Back in February, Real Business reported that shares would be offered up on Asset Match after interest from shareholders. Having delisted from the London Stock Exchange’s junior market at the beginning of 2012, shareholders have found it hard to realise the value of their assets.

While the club has 30,000 shareholders, 85 per cent are owned by Daniel Levy and Joe Lewis – meaning most have small holdings and find it hard to make trades.

In one instance last week, an 85 year-old shareholder sold more than 10,000 shares at 165.5p each, bringing in £16,000 for the retiree. This is twice the value he could have got when the shares trade on AIM, where they had a final closing price of 70p.

Stuart Lucas, co-CEO of Asset Match, commented: “Tottenham Hotspur is just one of the thousands of private businesses in the UK that have shareholders who own shares but are unable to release their value.

“They literally have nowhere to turn. Stockbrokers typically won’t trade shares in unlisted companies and other facilities for private shareholders (such as the matched bargain service that Tottenham has in place) are not only complicated to use but they fail to show the price of any potential ‘trade’ or historic transactions. This means that shareholders cannot be sure they are getting a fair price for their shares. As a result, there were lots of frustrated shareholders who have no way of exiting from their investment.”

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In a statement, Asset Match said it had opened auctions in the club’s shares as a response from a number of “frustrated individuals” who were unable to trade shares through its “match bargain service”.

Previously, Asset Match contacted Tottenham Hotspur and was advised by management that it was happy with the current service from Capita. After going to Asset Match for more details, Real Business was told that some shareholders didn’t feel the current system worked. As such, Asset Match approached Tottenham management first with a few different ideas, not only to create liquidity for the slightly larger minority shareholders, but also with ways to consolidate all the one share shareholders.

Other unquoted companies to have had shares traded on Asset Match include Scottish beer brand Brewdog and the Co-Operative Bank.

Accounts for the year-to-date 30 June 2014 showed that Tottenham Hotspur posted a turnover of £181m and profit before tax of £80m – the largest ever made by an English football club. It is currently in second position in the English Premier League, competing with Leicester City to win the Premier League for the first time.

Lucas added: “This is our first auction for a football club and it was encouraging to see so much activity. Any business that has private shareholders can manage their investors much better, providing a clear and easy path to exit. Spurs offer a service that clearly doesn’t work for the thousands of minority shareholders of the club’s shares.”