Billionaire Usmanov Trumps Kroenke’s Offer for Arsenal Shares

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s second-largest shareholder, is offering to buy stakes in the English Premier League soccer club at a higher price than majority owner Stan Kroenke.

Usmanov has instructed London-based broker Brewin Dolphin Holdings Plc to make a 14,000-pound ($22,600) per share offer to holders. That’s higher than the 11,750-pound offer Kroenke made last month after buying about 30 percent of the club’s stock from former directors Nina Bracewell-Smith and Danny Fiszman. Usmanov owns 27.4 percent of Arsenal, while Kroenke now holds almost 64 percent.

Red & White Holdings Ltd., the company created by Usmanov to buy Arsenal stock, may send its offer document to the club’s remaining shareholders in the next 24 hours, a spokesman said today. Usmanov has been paying up to 12,500 pounds per share since Kroenke took control of the team.

Kroenke and Usmanov have battled for control of Arsenal, the 13-times champion of English soccer. Usmanov told Bloomberg News he’s not willing to sell his shares to the American, who has interests in a range of U.S. sports teams including the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and basketball franchise Denver Nuggets.

Kroenke has declined to meet with Usmanov and discuss his plans for the club. The Arsenal Supporters Club, which speaks for small shareholders who have a combined holding of about 8 percent, advised its members not to sell to Kroenke, saying they preferred the club to have plurality of owners.

“We still advise small shareholders to hold their shares because it’s about joint custodianship of the club,” said AST spokesman Tim Payton. He said he has yet to see Usmanov’s offer document or a letter explaining the rationale behind his bid.

Usmanov first took a stake in the club in 2007, when he bought 15 percent for 75 million pounds from former board member David Dein.

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