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United shares snapped up by US investment firm

ESPN staff
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An American investment firm has bought nearly a quarter of all Manchester United shares available on the New York Stock Exchange.

Baron Capital now owns 24% of the shares that United's owners, the Glazer family, sold in 2012. The total represents 2.5% of the club, with the Glazers still retaining 90%.

Rather than being an indication the firm are seeking to secure a controlling interest in the club, analysts believe Baron Capital's accumulation of shares shows they see United as a good long-term investment.

The move partially explains why United's share prices have been rising despite an underwhelming campaign where David Moyes' side sit seventh in the Premier League with Champions League football unlikely next season.

United's expected announcement of a new kit deal with Nike - believed to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds - has also been a contributing factor.

The club's investor relations website confirmed Baron Capital now owns 9,581,636 shares, which were worth £90 million at the close of the market on Monday, when the share price was $15.84 (£9.53) - the highest level since November.

A statement on Baron Capital's website said: "Shares of Manchester United dropped... due to a delay in the signing of a new global merchandise deal with Nike and the team's poor performance on the field.

"The Nike deal is still expected to be signed, but has been pushed out from this fiscal year. We remain positive on the company's prospects going forward."

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