Arsenal’s Usmanov Increases Stake After Kroenke Takes Control of Club

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has continued to buy shares in Arsenal even after rival investor Stan Kroenke took control of the 13-time English soccer champion.

Usmanov, a metals magnate with an estimated $18 billion fortune, bought six shares for a total of 70,950 pounds ($116,000), according to a statement released by the Regulatory News Service today.

The 57-year-old last week told Bloomberg News he wouldn’t sell his 27 percent holding to Kroenke. The American took his stake to 63 percent by agreeing to buy shares from other directors, triggering a mandatory takeover bid.

Kroenke offered 11,750 pounds a share for the remaining stock in the north London-based team, valuing it at about 731 million pounds. That’s the share price he agreed to pay for the combined 32 percent holdings of Nina Bracewell-Smith and Danny Fiszman, a director who died April 13.

“I’m not going to sell,” Usmanov said in the telephone interview from Moscow last week. “I love Arsenal, that’s why I’m a shareholder.”

The Russian has been vying with sports investor Kroenke for control of the Gunners for the past four years. He owns two boxes at the club’s 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium and has four seats in the directors’ box. While billionaire Kroenke was welcomed onto the board in 2008, the Russian doesn’t have a seat.

Usmanov’s holding allows him some control over the club’s finances and organizational structure. He first took a stake in the club in 2007, when he bought 15 percent for 75 million pounds from former board member David Dein.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in the London newsroom at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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