Billionaire Usmanov Said to Bid for Kroenke's Stake in Arsenal

  • Russian businessmen values London club at 2 billion pounds
  • Kroenke hasn’t yet replied to Usmanov’s offer made month ago

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Alisher Usmanov, the Russian billionaire who owns more than 30 percent of London’s Arsenal Football Club, offered to buy out majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Usmanov’s offer values the club at as much as 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion), the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a confidential matter. The bid was made a month ago in a letter that also included a proposal to work together to secure the future of the club if Kroenke doesn’t want to sell. Usmanov hasn’t had any response and is weighing options to defend his interests as a minority shareholder, the people said.

Representatives of Usmanov declined to comment. Kroenke, an American billionaire investor who controls almost 67 percent in the company, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Kroenke has given an informal indication that he’s not interested in selling, according to the Financial Times, which earlier reported the offer.

Usmanov last month said that Kroenke bears responsibility for the team’s performance in the English Premier League. With one more round of matches to be played this weekend, Arsenal is poised to finish outside the top four sides for the first time in more than 20 years, denying them a place in Europe’s elite Champions League next season.

Embattled coach Arsene Wenger, whose future is under scrutiny after the team’s indifferent form, should have a say in picking his own successor, Usmanov said.

Usmanov has also called for an overhaul of Arsenal’s commercial operations. While Arsenal’s full-year revenue of about 350 million pounds is the third-highest in the Premier League, it’s about 30 percent less than rival Manchester United, which generates more commercial income from jersey-sponsorship rights and branding.

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