Facebook’s recent much-trumpeted initial public offering was overshadowed today as shares in David Beckham, Inc. gained 23% on their first day of trading, valuing Beckham at over $200 billion.
But while the Facebook IPO made many of its financial backers rich beyond their wildest dreams, so many people around the world owned a piece of David Beckham that individual gains could be quite modest. Because millions of Manchester United supporters and residents of Beckham’s native London will qualify for the new shares, the main claim centres will be located in the South East of England.
‘It depends on when you bought into the Beckham phenomenon,’ said Brent Hester of the London Stock Exchange. ‘Anyone who took a gamble when his stock was really low following his sending-off against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup could become a millionaire. Many people now say they secretly supported him at that time but written proof will be needed before any payouts are made, and there is no Facebook or Twitter record going back that far. Conversely, the huge numbers who bought in after seeing Bend it like Beckham may only break even.’
Politicians such as Tony Blair and David Cameron made their acquisitions after the brand was well established, but they could still make a respectable gain because they each own a big chunk of him, and Lord Coe should do particularly well. However, Barack Obama’s acquisition last week was too late to do him any good and with the high price he paid for backing welfare and gay marriage and he could be facing significant losses.
Beckham’s easy charm and style meant people of all sexual orientations, cultures and nationalities laid claim to a little bit of him. It is thought half a billion Chinese could become shareholders, achieving a market penetration which Facebook, still banned in the country, will regard with envy.
Beckham says the IPO won’t affect him personally as he sold out years ago and didn’t own any part of himself. His wife Victoria has increased her personal fortune by selling shares but retains ownership of a controlling stake, which rose to a new high yesterday as she showed him her appreciation.