Arsenal agrees to £731m takeover

2011-04-11 15:48

London - Arsenal is poised to become the fifth premier league club to have an American owner, after sports tycoon Stan Kroenke agreed a takeover deal that values the club at £731m.

Billionaire Kroenke, who already owns close to 30% of the London club, said on Monday he had offered shareholders £11.750 per share and had already secured the backing of 16.1% shareholder Danny Fiszman and 15.9% shareholder Nina Bracewell-Smith.

He now controls 63% of Arsenal and under Takeover Panel rules is compelled to make an offer for the remaining shares.

Russian steel magnate Alisher Usmanov is the other major shareholder, holding a 27% stake through his Red and White vehicle which declined to comment on what his plans were.

Kroenke, worth $2.9bn in 2010 according to Forbes, already owns several US sports teams, including the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, NFL team the St Louis Rams, and Major League Soccer team the Colorado Rapids.

"Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger," said Kroenke, who first made his fortune developing commercial and retail properties.

"We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success."

Arsenal, who are second in the Premier League behind Manchester United, have gone six years without a trophy since their FA Cup success in 2005.

The Gunners have 62 points from 31 league games and are seven points behind United with a game in hand; they are also still to host their rivals on May 1.

Best interests

Fans have been frustrated as the 13-times English champions' spending on players has lagged behind rivals such as Chelsea and Manchester City and while it remains to be seen how much money would be in the transfer pot, Wenger welcomed the takeover.

"I have worked with Stan Kroenke at board meetings over the past couple of years and I believe he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart," the Frenchman, who has managed the club since 1996, said.

"He understands the club's heritage and traditions and our ambition to run the club in a way which protects our long-term future."

Chairperson Peter Hill-Wood will remain in his position.

Bracewell-Smith, whose family has been involved in the club for more than 70 years, issued a statement in support of Kroenke.