Kroenke’s Arsenal takeover in doubt

%image% Stan Kroenke’s attempt to take control of Arsenal looks set to falter after Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov refused to sell his shares.American businessman Kroenke increased his stake in the English Premier League club to 62.89 per cent this week after agreeing to purchase the shares of board members Danny Fizsman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith.

The deal obliged Kroenke to make a cash offer for all remaining shares in the club.

Usmanov, who has previously expressed an interest in a full takeover of his own, appears unlikely to part with his 27 per cent stake in the club.

“I’m not going to sell my stake,” Usmanov said.

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

Usmanov’s investment company Red and White Holdings bought into Arsenal in 2007 after purchasing the 14.65 per cent held by former vice-chairman David Dein for 75 million pounds.

He increased his stake further in 2009.

The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST), which opposes sole ownership of the club, welcomed Usmanov’s stance.

“AST welcomes Red and White Holdings’ (Usmanov’s investment company) commitment to Arsenal and calls on all shareholders to work together,” AST said in a statement.

“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.”

“Arsenal is too important to be owned by any one man.”

Kroenke already owns NBA franchise the Denver Nuggets, MLS team Colorado Rapids, NHL outfit Colorado Avalanche and NFL club St Louis Rams.

He agreed to purchase Fizsman’s 16.1 per cent and Bracewell-Smith’s 15.9 per cent for 11,750 pounds per share, or 234 million pounds in total.

The deal values the club at 731 million pounds.