But while the Facebook IPO made many of its financial backers rich beyond their wildest dreams, many people around the world who own a piece of David Beckham accept that individual gains could be quite modest, as millions of Manchester United supporters and residents of Beckham’s native London will qualify for the new shares.
‘It depends on when you bought into the Beckham phenomenon,’ said Brent Hester of the London Stock Exchange. ‘Anyone who took a punt 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 as they each own a big chunk of him, and Lord Coe should do particularly well after buying into the star in Singapore in 2005 and heavily promoting him from the top of a London bus in Beijing in 2008.
However, Barack Obama’s acquisition last week was regarded as ‘way after the bell’, and coupled with the high price he paid for backing welfare and gay marriage when demand is at an all time low, he could be facing significant losses.
Beckham’s easy charm and style means people of all sexual orientations, cultures and nationalities lay claim to a little bit of him. It is thought half a billion Chinese could become shareholders, seeking market penetration and huge ad revenue based on dwindling areas of premium tattoo space which Facebook, still banned in the country, can only regard with envy.
Beckham says the IPO won’t affect him personally as he sold out years ago and no longer owns 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.