The Arsenal FC club announced at the beginning of the week a restructuring of its shareholder structure. Movements which considerably strengthen the position of Stan Kroenke, majority shareholder of the London club. Lighting.
It had been in the air for a few months and the London club formalized the news earlier this week. Already majority shareholder of the club at 67%, the American businessman Stan Kroenke bought the shares of his “partner”, Alisher Usmanov.
According to the information revealed, the Russian magnate has agreed to sell his shares held in the London club – approximately 30% of the share capital of Arsenal FC – for an amount of £ 550m. A transaction that values Arsenal up to £ 1.8bn.
Usmanov has resigned himself to leaving Arsenal FC
However, the Russian businessman has not always held this sales position within the London club. Regularly expressing his disapproval of the management of the club led by Kroenke; Usmanov has tried on several occasions to increase his stake in the London club.
He even succeeded in 2016 by buying 15% of Arsenal FC’s share capital from Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri, who has since gone to invest in Everton. A movement which then allowed Usmanov to double his shares in the Gunners.
Following this first move, Usmanov even attempted to buy back the shares held by Stan Kroenke. Last year, Alisher Usmanov sent an offer worth $ 1.3 billion to recover the shares of the American businessman. An offer that was quickly rejected by Stan Kroenke, not wishing to withdraw from the club.
Arsenal FC: how Stan Kroenke financed the buyout of Usmanov’s shares?
Unable to achieve a position of majority shareholder, the sale of shares became inevitable for Alisher Usmanov. The latter nevertheless tried to resist by refusing an offer from Kroenke last October, offering to buy back his 30%. for a sum of £ 525m. Finally, the second offer was the right one.
Although Arsenal’s situation could have attracted potential investors – the club have been making profits for the past fifteen years – Alisher Usmanov’s situation kept him from raising the stakes. Despite holding 30% of the club’s share capital, the Russian businessman did not have a seat on the board of directors. And the possibility of becoming the majority shareholder of the club was reduced to nothing because of the position taken by Stan Kroenke. Usmanov could then only sell his shares to the American businessman.
According to information cited by the Financial Times, Stan Kroenke should not invest only £ 45m of his personal fortune in this operation. To finalize the transaction, the majority shareholder of the London club is said to have taken out a loan, via his company KSE UK, of £ 557 million from Deutsche Bank.
Note that this operation was not very well received by the supporters of the Gunners. “It is a terrible day in the history of Arsenal Football Club” even said the Arsenal Supporters Trust in a statement issued following the transaction. While the management led by Stan Kroenke has been contested for several years by Arsenal fans, they now fear that the American businessman will withdraw the last shares of the London club listed on the London Stock Exchange. An operation which would then allow Kroenke to be truly alone at the helm of the club …