American billionaire makes $777M offer for Arsenal

The takeover battle for English Premier League side Arsenal between American and Russian billionaires could be about to end.

On Tuesday, Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke made a $777 million (£600m) offer to assume full control of the English Premier League club, which would take its value to $2.33 billion (£1.8 billion).

Kroenke, who currently owns 67% of the club through his company KSE, has put forward a proposal to buy the remainder of the club’s shares — 30% of which are owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and his company Red and White Securities. The deal was published on the London Stock Exchange Tuesday.

“We at KSE are moving forward with this offer leading to 100 per cent ownership of the club,” the statement read. “We appreciate Mr Usmanov’s dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents.”

Uzbek-born businessman Usmanov is a metals and communications tycoon worth $12.8 billion, according to Forbes, but he never attained a seat on the Arsenal board.

“Unfortunately, I have no control in this club,” Usmanov told CNN in 2015. “But in any case, I’m very happy to be here. Maybe for the very, very long-term.”

Though it looks like not for much longer as KSE said it had received an “irrevocable undertaking” from Red and White Securities to accept the offer as soon as possible” and in any event by 3 p.m. (10 a.m. ET) Tuesday.”

“KSE’s ambitions for the club are to see it competing consistently to win the Premier League and the Champions League, as well as the major trophies in the women’s senior game and at youth level,” added the KSE statement.

Arsenal finished sixth last season and will play in the Europe’s second tier competition — the Europa League — during the 2018/2019 campaign.

It has already been a time of change off the pitch for the club with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unain Emery replacing Arsene Wenger in the summer after the Frenchman left at the end of last season after 22 years at the club.

Supporters’ Trust ‘wholly against takeover’

Kroenke’s company KSE also owns NFL’s LA Rams, NBA’S Denver Nuggets, NHL team Colorado Avalanche and MLS side Colorado Rapids.

The American, who made a $2 billion bid to buy the club last year, will raise the capital with $58 million (£45m) of his own money and $721 million (£557m) in loans which, he says, will not be against the club.

But though Kronke has said the takeover will help the men’s senior team compete for titles, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) has described the announcement as “a dreadful day” for the north London side.

“Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values,” said an AST statement.

The statement added that by taking the club into private ownership, Kroenke would be able to pay management fees and dividends without any check or balance, place debt onto the club to support other business interests and remove independent directors.

“The AST is also extremely concerned to note that this purchase is being funded by a loan,” the statement continued.

“The most dreadful part of this announcement is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans … The AST is wholly against this takeover which marks a very sad day for Arsenal Football Club.”

The Gunners begins its Premier League campaign against Manchester City on Sunday.