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BlackRock takes stake in Manchester United

NEW YORK (AP) — The investment firm BlackRock has taken a stake in Manchester United, one of the world's most famous soccer clubs.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, New York-based BlackRock Inc. said it has acquired 3.3 million shares in Manchester United PLC. That gives it an 8 percent stake in the club's publicly traded stock.

The English soccer club went public on the New York Stock Exchange last August. The American family that owns the team, the Glazers, maintain control through a dual share structure.

The Glazer family loaded the club with debt after taking it over in 2005. But Manchester United has recently been paying it down, using money raised from the initial public stock offering to pay off 62.6 million pounds ($99 million) of high-interest bonds.

The Glazer family owns privately held Class B shares that carry 10 times the voting power of the stock sold to the public. There are 124 million Class B shares and 39 million Class A shares, according to the data provider FactSet.

Manchester United is one of the most renowned sports teams in the world and claims 659 million followers.

The football club's stock has risen about 35 percent in the past three months.

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