July 16, 2008 / 11:53 AM / in 10 years

Hajduk Split to offer shares for sale

ZAGREB (Reuters) - The shares of Hajduk Split, the first Croatian soccer club to be offered for sale, will be available to buyers next month, the club said on Wednesday.

“The club has been given approval by a sports ministry commission for the sale of its shares. After a part of the stock is transferred to the city of Split, we will offer shares to our supporters, probably in about three weeks, and then the remaining stock to the public,” Hajduk’s spokesman told Reuters.

He could not give more details, but Croatian media reported that Hajduk’s total base capital was estimated at some 260 million kuna (28.5 million pounds).

Some 16,000 members of the Hajduk supporters’ association will be able to buy a total of 162,070 shares worth 81 million kuna. Some shares will also be offered to former players with outstanding claims, the Split-based Slobodna Dalmacija daily reported.

The city of Split will become the majority owner of the club under a debt-ownership swap scheme turning the state’s claim of some 140 million kuna in unpaid taxes into an ownership stake.

It was unclear if and when the shares will be listed on the stock exchange.

“It is certainly possible that Hajduk, like any other shareholding company, will be listed, but it depends on the ownership structure or what percentage of the stock could become available for free float,” said the spokesman for the Zagreb stock exchange, Zeljko Kardum.

Hajduk, six-times Croatian and 11-times Yugoslav champions, are one of a number of top flight clubs that have amassed debts since Croatia became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Croatian soccer clubs are currently registered as non-profit “associations of citizens”. According to a new sports bill, aimed at regulating legal and financial aspects of soccer, all clubs that have debts will have to become shareholding companies to avoid going bust.

Others will be able to choose whether to keep the current status or seek an owner.

No one will be able to buy shares worth more than 25 percent of a club’s base capital without approval of the commission for professional clubs, to prevent any speculative deals.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Paul Bolding

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