Alisher Usmanov increases stake in Arsenal
Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has increased his stake in Arsenal to more than 26 percent, keeping him in a battle with American Stan Kroenke for control of the Premier League club.
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Kroenke remains the largest shareholder and has steadily increased his holding in recent months to 29.9 percent, just short of the 30 percent threshold that would require him to make an offer for the remainder of the shares at the highest price paid for the stock during the past 12 months.
Arsenal announced on Friday to London's Plus Market that Usmanov - through investment vehicle Red and White Holdings - had taken his stake from 15,555 shares, representing just over 25 percent of the club, to 16,223.
"It looks at the moment there are two main people fighting for the ownership of the club," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Friday. "Who will get the ownership, I don't know. ... It is very difficult for me to be involved in that. It is very important that the club focuses on winning football games."
Kroenke also owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer.
While attention has been focused on Kroenke in recent months as he bought shares mostly from fellow directors, Usmanov has been upping his stake on the open market.
Usmanov is only required to make public disclosures when he crosses certain thresholds because he has not been invited onto the board of directors - unlike Kroenke, who is required to announce each acquisition to the Plus Market.
Arsenal is third in the Premier League going into Sunday's match at Liverpool, and has qualified for the knockout round of the Champions League.