Stan Kroenke’s Arsenal bid: what it means for the club and the fans
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust says the offer marks a ‘dreadful day’ for the Gunners
Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has bid £600m to take full control of the Premier League club.
According to a release published by the London Stock Exchange, his company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) has made an all-cash offer which would value the Gunners at approximately £1.8bn.
Kroenke currently owns 67% of the club’s shares and his offer is to buy the 30% of shares owned by minority stakeholder Alisher Usmanov. The BBC reports that buying Usmanov’s shares would take KSE “past the 90% threshold” and can “compulsorily be able to purchase the remaining 1,779 shares, which are valued at £52.3m”.
In the London Stock Exchange statement, Kroenke said: “We at KSE are moving forward with this offer leading to 100% ownership of the club. We appreciate Mr Usmanov’s dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents.
“The successful implementation of the offer will result in the opening of a new chapter in the history of the club in bringing 100% private ownership by KSE.
“KSE believes moving to private ownership will bring the benefits of a single owner better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club’s strategy and ambitions. KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club.”
Explained: Kroenke’s takeover of Arsenal FC
Who is Stan Kroenke?
The 71-year-old American was born in Columbia, Missouri and is reportedly worth $8.1bn (£6.25bn). He has a background in real estate and is one of the largest landowners in the United States, according to The Land Report.
As well as Arsenal, Kroenke and his company KSE have a sports business portfolio which includes the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, NBA side the Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and MLS side Colorado Rapids.
He first bought shares in Arsenal in 2007 before gaining majority control of the club in 2011.
In numbers: the KSE offer
Arsenal Holdings PLC has a total of 62,217 shares which are each worth £29,419.64, according to the London Stock Exchange. KSE owns 41,743 shares (67%) and has offered £550m to buy Usmanov’s 18,695 shares (30%). The offer values the club at £1.8bn.
Sky Sports reports that KSE has received an “irrevocable undertaking” from Usmanov’s company Red and White Securities “to accept the offer as soon as possible”, and by the latest at 3pm today.
The Associated Press reports that Kroenke would be using a £557m loan from Deutsche Bank to fund the “complete buyout of Arsenal”.
All change again at Arsenal
With Arsene Wenger departing after more than 20 years from the Arsenal manager’s seat and being replace by Unai Emery, Gunners fans would have been hoping for relative calm before the start of the new season.
But even before today’s news broke of KSE’s bid, there had been doubts about the future of chief executive Ivan Gazidis. Sky in Italy reported recently that he is a target for AC Milan and could leave the club.
Stan Kroenke’s son, Josh, has been “taking an increasingly hands-on role at Arsenal” recently, The Daily Telegraph reports, and that is “expected to continue”.
What does it mean for the fans?
While Kroenke has promised a “new chapter” in the history of Arsenal, the news of the takeover offer has not gone down well with the club’s supporters.
Many Gunners fans don’t want to see the club registered as a private company and fear of a “lessening of the transparency around key financial decisions and less influence for supporters”, says The Telegraph.
The American’s 100% ownership would also mean no fans owning shares and the end of their role to “uphold custodianship values”.
After news broke of the bid the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) called it a “dreadful day” for the football club. In a statement, AST said: “Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values.
“The AST is also extremely concerned to note that this purchase is being funded by a loan. The most dreadful part of this announcement is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans. Many of these fans are AST members and hold their shares not for value but as custodians who care for the future of the club.
“Kroenke’s actions will neuter their voice and involvement. It is in effect legalised theft to remove shareholder scrutiny on how Arsenal is managed. The AST is wholly against this takeover. Arsenal remains too important to be owned by any one person.”