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SBD Global/March 4, 2013/Franchises
Arsenal Claims No Interest In $2.25B Takeover Bid From Middle East Consortium
Published March 4, 2013
NO CONTACT: In London, Mark Cue reported Arsenal has insisted that Kroenke "has no intention of selling his majority stake in the club." Arsenal has also stressed that "there has been no approach, informal or otherwise, from potential bidders," and that Kroenke, who holds a 66.8% majority stake, remains "in it for the long term." If he did accept a deal, Usmanov, the club’s second-largest shareholder who does not have a seat on the board, "would be asked to sell" his with a 29.11% stake (LONDON TIMES, 3/3). Arsenal Communications Dir Mark Gonnella said, "Stan Kroenke is committed to Arsenal for the long term and has no intention of selling his stake. There has been no contact from any potential investors." Gonnella noted that Kroenke, who also owns the NFL St. Louis Rams, had never sold any of his sports investments (REUTERS, 3/3). Also in London, Matt Law reported that Kroenke, worth £4B ($6B) by the Forbes rich list, has "told the club on several occasions that he is at Arsenal 'for the long haul.'" He has said in the past that he "does not want to sell." The feeling inside The Emirates is that "he will resist any temptation to sell to a so-far unnamed Arab consortium backed by funds from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates" (DAILY MIRROR, 3/3).
MUCH IN COMMON: In London, Ben Harrington noted American owners of British football clubs have "tended to sell out either to make money or avoid financial disaster." Take, for example, specialist private equity investor from Texas, Tom Hicks, and entrepreneur George Gillett, who bought Liverpool in '07 from the Moores family. The Americans "looked to emulate" the Glazer family’s acquisition of ManU and financed a takeover deal of more than £200M "using a vast amount of debt provided by Royal Bank of Scotland." Once the pair of entrepreneurs failed to refinance the £237.4M loan from RBS, Hicks and Gillett "were forced to sell the club by the bank." Kroenke, though, "does not appear to be in the same financial position as Hicks, Gillett and the Glazers." So, Kroenke’s decision to sell his Arsenal shareholding "boils down to whether he is purely a financial investor or whether he wants to be a long-term owner willing to pour millions of his own money into a British football team just to see them pick up a Champions League trophy" (TELEGRAPH, 3/2).
SILENT STAN: Also in London, Rory Smith opined "like most visceral nemeses, Arsenal and Tottenham have more in common than they might care to admit; more, certainly, than a simple, bilious enmity." Both have endured a number of seasons when they "have been forced, by brute financial reality, to watch the jewels in their crown depart for richer pastures." And both are "under the control of men who very rarely say a word." Tottenham Owner Joe Lewis, through the ENIC investment group he runs with Spurs Chair Daniel Levy, owns 85% of the club, and is often "described as reclusive." So "rare are Kroenke’s public utterances, of course, that he is known both here and in his homeland as 'Silent Stan.' Rams website Turf Show Times Editor Ryan Van Bibber said, "He stays behind the scenes" (LONDON TIMES, 3/2).