Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov: I could sell my stake
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Arsenal’s second largest shareholder after Stan Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov, has revealed he could sell his stake – but insists he is ‘not holding any talks’ at the moment.
It is believed a vicious power struggle is taking place behind the scenes at the North London Premier League club culminating in the Missouri-born billionaire reportedly making an offer of more than £520 million for his rival’s 30.4 per cent holding.
But Usamanov said on Wednesday he will continue to be associated with the club in the long term, before adding a caveat, admitting he could sell the shares he first acquired in August 2007.
He said: “My 30 per cent stake as an important aspect in protecting the best interests of the fans in the club.
“My interest in Arsenal from the beginning was long term and my intention has always been to buy additional shares should they become available.
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“I’d like to assure supporters I am open to various future scenarios: A constructive partnership with the majority shareholder, the purchase of his stake either alone or in a consortium.”
However in a line that will alarm fans he added: “If a party appears who shares my – and undoubtedly the majority of fans’ vision for the club – I could consider the question of selling my stake.”
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Although he is a significant shareholder, Usmanov is not part of the board and is unable to influence decisions at the Emirates.
He has previously slammed Arsenal’s failures on the pitch and made a bid of around £1 billion before the FA Cup Final that was rejected out of hand by the American billionaire.
In a twist to the East versus West power struggle playing out at the club Kroenke has offered £28,000 per share for Usmanov’s stake.
If he is successful in buying the shares Kroenke would then own 97 per cent of the club. He would then be able to squeeze out fans who are minority shareholders but who may have help their shares for generations.
It also means the club could then become a plaything for Kroenke as it would be become a privately owned business unaccountable to dissenting voices.
Kroenke could also stop the long tradition of the club holding an AGM and the publication of accounts.
He could also register the business under the KSE umbrella in the US and be able to use the club as collateral and leverage its value by borrowing against it, as the Glaziers did with Manchester United.
This year’s AGM on Thursday October 26 promises to be a stormy one.