Usmanov Will Not Sell His 27pc Arsenal Stake to Kroenke

April 14, 2011

Russian billionaire and 27 per cent shareholder in English Premier League soccer club Alisher Usmanov says he will not sell his Arsenal shares after fellow shareholder Stan Kroenke triggered a mandatory buyout offer.

Kroenke increased his stake in the club earlier this week to nearly 63 per cent having bought Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s 15.9 per cent stake along with Danny Fiszman’s 16.1 per cent, who sadly passed away yesterday.

Doing so meant that he was forced to make an offer for the remaining shares under UK law but Usmanov told Bloomberg: “I’m not going to sell my stake.

“I love Arsenal, that’s why I’m a shareholder.”

A spokesperson for the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) welcomed Usmanov’s stance, stating: “AST welcomes Red and White Holdings’ [Usmanov’s investment company] commitment to Arsenal and calls on all shareholders to work together.

“Their priorities should firstly be making Arsenal a successful football team, secondly placing no leveraged debt on the club or taking dividends and management fees out of the club, and thirdly helping supporters be directly involved in the club’s shareholding.”

When news broke that Kroenke had become the majority shareholder, BBC business reporter Robert Peston reported that he had been told Usmanov was “hopping mad” and felt he had been “stitched up” by Arsenal.

Russian billionaire Usmanov bought into Arsenal in August 2007, when he paid former vice-chairman David Dein about £75m (US$122.4m) for his 14.65 per cent stake and in December 2009, Usmanov increased his interest to just over 26 per cent.

The supporters trust has already indicated it will not sell its shares, adding: “Arsenal is too important to be owned by any one man.”