MANCHESTER UNITED priced its initial public offering at $US14 ($13.30) a share on Thursday, valuing the 134-year-old English soccer team at about $US2.3 billion ($2.1 billion).

The price is below the price range of $US16 to $US20 it outlined last week. Underwriters decided to price the offering below the range after several institutions requested allotments late on Thursday afternoon, after the company's investor book had closed, according to a source. Because of the perceived high quality of the potential shareholders, bankers decided to accommodate them at the lower price.

About 16.6 million shares are being sold in the offering. Its underwriters have the option of selling an additional 2.5 million shares to cover additional demand. The shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ''MANU''.

Shares of the team had traded on the London Stock Exchange until 2005, when Malcolm Glazer, an American who also controls the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team, took the company private in a $1.45 billion buyout.

Manchester United had previously considered listing in Hong Kong and Singapore before choosing the US market.

Manchester United has been the most successful English soccer team of late, winning 19 league titles. Last season, however, it finished second to Manchester City. Still, it has attracted a large following around the world, selling more than 5 million licensed products in the last year.

The offering is being led by the Jefferies Group, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.

The New York Times