Club Brugge will go to the stock exchange before Easter

Club Brugge is speeding up its trade fair plans. Even before Easter, blue-black wants to list on Euronext Brussels.

The condition for the rapid IPO is that the stock exchange watchdog FSMA quickly approves the information bundle of the operation – the prospectus in the professional jargon.

The national champion is put on the market at a sky-high valuation of at least 400 million euros, De Tijd learned. Some even put forward a higher amount. That is much firmer than expected. “It is indeed a hefty premium compared to the average football club, but Club sells itself as a company with a solid recurring cash flow and profitability and not as an average club,” says a source.


The high rating is based on the new stadium, which should boost revenues from the 2023/2024 season.

This high rating is based on the new stadium, which should boost revenues from the 2023/2024 season. Club is aiming for 36,000 regular subscribers and 5,000 VIPs in its stadium – compared to 2,000 now. That should give stadium revenues an extra boost of 23 million euros per year. Blauw-Zwart is also counting on an increase in net profit of EUR 15 million. Club made a profit of 24.5 million last season.

Beneliga

With the arrival of the Beneliga – a competition with the best Dutch and Belgian clubs that should yield significantly more media and TV rights – less account is taken of it. The appreciation against which Club Brugge is marketed – 16 times the net profit – is considerably higher than at European top clubs such as Olympique Lyon, AS Roma and Ajax Amsterdam.

In the case of the Dutch club, this probably has to do with the ownership structure. Almost three-quarters of this is in the hands of the controlling Association AFC Ajax. This makes the share less readily tradable and therefore less interesting for large investors.

Moreover, Ajax is not a return share. Even over the 2018/19 agricultural year, less than a tenth of the earnings per share flowed to the shareholders, a year later, despite the large amount of cash on the balance sheet, the loss figures meant no dividend.

Feminize

To the surprise of many, only existing shares are sold at the IPO of Club Brugge. When blue-black goes to the stock exchange at the expected valuation, chairman Bart Verhaeghe and the other selling shareholders – CEO Vincent Mannaert and the directors Jan Boone (Lotus Bakeries) and Peter Vanhecke – will have a view, depending on the number of items that they present during the operation at 100 to 200 million euros. Today they jointly own 94.34 percent of the shares and want to keep the majority.

According to observers, this gives the impression that they are cashing out of opportunistic considerations at a time when the stock markets are very high. One source also suggests that some potential risks remain underexposed, such as a possible implosion of media rights – as in France at the beginning of this year -, the arrival of a new European top league in 2024 or a reform of the current transfer system in football.

In order to respect the rules for listed companies, Club Brugge will feminize its board of directors. Sangeeta Desai (ex-operational director of the production house Fremantle), Lucy Quist (Morgan Stanley) and Cind Du Bois (professor of the Royal Military Academy) come on board. With them, the council is also becoming more international and diverse.

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