Manchester United is planning to raise about
$1 billion from an initial public offering in Singapore by the end of this year, sources familiar with the situation said as the famous English soccer club becomes the latest foreign company to tap Asia’s funding markets.

In a move that would see the team return to the public markets some six years after the family of U.S. businessman Malcolm Glazer bought the club, Credit Suisse Groupe has been hired to handle deal.

United, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange as Manchester United PLC before a £790 million ($1.29 billion) takeover by the Glazer family in 2005, had initially planned to list in Hong Kong, but changed its mind and has now picked Singapore as a listing venue.

The decision to list Manchester United in Singapore crystallises Asia’s importance as a growth area for the debt-laden Premier League soccer club. Manchester United says almost two-thirds of its 300 million followers live in Asia, and the club has negotiated a series of commercial deals in recent years to exploit its brand in the region.

Manchester United is one of the world’s most popular sports teams and the third-biggest soccer club by revenue, behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, with €349.8 million ($501.8 million) during the 2009-10 season, according to Deloitte’s Football Money League report. Earlier this year, Forbes ranked the club as the world’s most valuable soccer team, valuing the club at $1.86 billion.

Asia is also fast becoming the focus for foreign listings by companies attracted by increasingly wealthy consumers and bullish investors.

Manchester United is the world’s third – biggest soccer club by revenue and an illustrious example of world class sporting club branding that it’s competitors can mostly dream of.