Can Kroenke and Usmanov Co-Own Arsenal?
Arsenal’s Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis has been talking about our three main shareholders, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke.
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, who owns 15.9%, was ousted shortly before Gazidis was appointed. She has spent more time in India recently. Her shareholding is vital as to who will control the club.
Gazidis said, “I certainly plan to meet with Lady Nina and have a productive ongoing dialogue. She is a significant shareholder and she deserves to be treated as such.”
Gazidis has also had meetings with Alisher Usmanov, and expects these meetings to continue. This is a pragmatic approach rather than that of Hill-Wood who wishes to ostracise anyone who is not “his type.”
Gazidis stated, “I’ve spent some good time with him and I’m going to keep the contents of those meetings private but it’s a dialogue that is important for us to have. I have responsibilities not only to the board but to all the shareholders.
Gazidis also stated that Kroenke is a long-term investor in Arsenal Football Club. Kroenke recently increased his stake in the club to 20.5%, having acquired 5,000 shares from fellow Arsenal director and tax exile Danny Fiszman.
Gazidis said, “He is a long-term investor who thinks about the sports business very carefully and philosophically is very close to the traditional Arsenal ethos.
“The club has some unique assets that will appreciate in value – it’s a London club, it has one of the best stadiums in the world, it has a tremendous squad of players who will get better year on year, a fantastic manager and a good business model.
“I think for all those reasons, he thinks it’s a good investment.”
Arsenal are in very fluid situation, Lady Nina wishes to sell her shares, whilst the recent disposal of 5,000 shares by Fiszman clearly indicates that, despite his protestations, Fiszman is a seller. The two big beasts are Usmanov and Kroenke. Kroenke is a long-term investor, which means he will sell once the price is right. People need to remember the Manchester United takeover when the Irish duo built up a stake as a “long-term” investment, only to sell once the price was right.
Usmanov’s drive to buy the club has been dented by the current economic crisis that has seen his wealth fall from $9.1 billion to $6 billion.
Matters need to be resolved at Arsenal we have two shareholders who want to sell, whilst there are two who appear to wish to increase their stakes. We could end up with a USA / Russian alliance owning Arsenal, with David Dein installed as Chairman. Dein resigned as chairman of Red & Whist Holdings (Usmanov’s company) in September 2008, opening the way for him to be the “honest” broker between the Kroenke, whom he introduced to the club and Usmanov to whom he sold his shareholding.