American billionaire Stan Kroenke is set to take over Arsenal as the sole owner after minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov accepted to sell his 30 percent stake.
Kroenke and Usmanov have been in a decade long battle to buy out each other’s shares and have full control of Arsenal, and now the deal which is valued at £1.8 billion will see an end to the battle.
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) in a statement said it has “received an irrevocable undertaking from [Usmanov’s] Red and White Securities to accept the offer.”
Usmanov released a statement confirming the news.
“I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal Football Club which could be the best football club in the world,” he said. “I wish all the best and great success to this wonderful football club and to all those whose lives and careers are entwined in it.”
And in a statement released to ESPN FC, Red and White Securities confirmed their acceptance of the deal on offer from KSE.
It read: “Red and White Holdings Limited (“Red and White”) today confirms that Mr Alisher Usmanov has given an irrevocable undertaking to KSE, UK, Inc. to accept the offer in respect of Red and White Securities’ entire holding of 18,695 Arsenal Shares (representing approximately 30.05 percent) for an agreed price of £29,419.64 per share in cash valuing Red and White Securities’ stake at just over £550 million.”
The Russian has agreed to sell at this point, after growing increasingly frustrated at being refused a seat on the club board. He has essentially no say in the running of the club, despite his 30-percent holding.
If the transaction is completed, it will be the firsts thime in arsenal history that one owner have full control of the entire club. This has left many fans worried including the Arsenal Supporters Trust that owns three shares.
“The most dreadful part of this announcement is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans. Many of these fans are AST members and hold their shares not for value but as custodians who care for the future of the club,” the AST said in the statement.
“Kroenke’s actions will neuter their voice and involvement. It is in effect legalised theft to remove shareholder scrutiny on how Arsenal is managed. The AST is wholly against this takeover. Arsenal remains too important to be owned by any one person.”
However, KSE has said that the buyout would allow Kroenke to act more decisively. “The successful implementation of the offer will result in the opening of a new chapter in the history of the club in bringing 100 percent private ownership by KSE.
“KSE believes moving to private ownership will bring the benefits of a single owner better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club’s strategy and ambitions. KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club.”
KSE will take a £557m loan from Deutsche Bank to help finance the purchase. However, KSE stressed that the debt will not affect Arsenal.