After a 10-year battle, Stan Kroenke is finally set to get full control of Arsenal.
The American billionaire’s latest offer to buy out fellow shareholder Alisher Usmanov’s stake for £550 million has been accepted by the Russian.
The deal, which values the club at £1.8 billion, means Arsenal are set to pass into single ownership for the first time in the club’s 132-year history.
But what does that mean, and how did we get to this point? Here’s a brief look at the history of Kroenke’s takeover battle and what the future might hold for the club.
Why is this news significant?
The announcement that Usmanov’s Red and White Securities has accepted an offer from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment ends a long tussle between the two billionaires, who have not had a working relationship and each has tried in the past to buy up the other’s stake.
For Kroenke, it means he gets full ownership of the club. Buying up Usmanov’s shares puts him over the 90-percent threshold that allows him to force out smaller remaining shareholders, who own a combined three percent.
They have been presented with an offer of £29,419.64 per share from Kroenke. While they don’t have to voluntarily accept — They have until Aug. 28 to respond to the offer — KSE has stated its intention to force through the sale of all remaining shares
What does that mean for Arsenal?
It should have little impact on the club’s day-to-day business as Kroenke already owned 67 percent of the club and had the final say on all major pieces of business. According to club chairman Sir Chips Keswick, KSE also have no intention of changing the makeup of the board of the directors, which includes Kroenke and his son Josh.
However, fan groups such as the Arsenal Supporters Trust are worried that the club would no longer need to hold an annual general meeting and that there could be less oversight of finances.
“Stan Kroenke taking the Club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values,” the AST said in a statement.
KSE, meanwhile, said the benefits of single ownership include being “better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club’s strategy and ambitions.”
One thing that does seem clear is that Arsenal’s business model of being self-sustainable will not change. Unlike Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, Kroenke has never injected his own cash to help fund transfers or other deals, something Usmanov had said he was willing to do.
How did Kroenke become majority shareholder in the first place?
The ownership battle between Kroenke and Usmanov is a long and complicated one. Kroenke first bought up a 10-percent stake in 2007, which gradually increased to close to 30 percent by 2009.
Usmanov launched a rival bid for control by buying up the stake held by former vice-chairman David Dein and other shareholders, which resulted in both tycoons owning close to 30 percent each. Kroenke finally won control in 2011 when other shareholders chose to sell their stakes to him.
Why is Usmanov selling now?
That is somewhat unclear, especially since the Russian has always maintained his is a long-term commitment and has previously refused to sell his stake to Kroenke. But he has voiced his frustration with being held at arm’s length by the club, which has rejected his calls for a seat on the board.
Usmanov, who is worth $12.7 billion according to Forbes (Kroenke’s value is $8.3bn), is making a hefty profit on his stake and may also have accepted that he would never have a real say in the way Arsenal is run.