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What: Shares of Manchester United (NYSE:MANU), the vaunted English soccer club, jumped as much as 10% today, finishing up 7.6%, after announcing a deal to buy out BSkyB's remaining stake in the team's TV station.
So what: The television network had been originally set up as a three-way joint venture in 1998 between Manchester United, BSkyB, and ITV, another broadcaster. United bought out ITV in 2007 and now has full control over MUTV, which is available in 57 countries. The team claims to have more than 650 million fans around the world. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Now what: Though we don't know how much Man. U paid for control, the purchase seems like a savvy move. Several other sports teams have adopted a similar forward integration strategy recently such as the New York Yankees with its YES network, and MSG, which owns the New York Rangers and Knicks and the eponymous station that broadcasts their games. In England, rival Chelsea bought out BSkyB's stake in its TV business last year. United shares gained steadily throughout the day but spiked around 2 p.m. ET, when a large investor purchased more than 30,000 shares. The stock, which made its debut last August, has been one of the more maligned on the market since going public, but shares are up 20% over the IPO price after today's gain. I wouldn't count out a brand this strong with a truly global following, especially with soccer's growth in China.
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