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Usmanov keeps options open in Arsenal battle

Alisher Usmanov, one of Arsenal's largest shareholders, has refused to rule out the possibility of launching a takeover for the club amid rumours he has increased his stake.

The Russian billionaire uses Red & White Holdings as an investment vehicle, and currently owns a 26.29% stake in the Gunners, though reports in the media suggested Usmanov has acquired another 37 shares to take his stake up to 26.31%.

In a statement Red & White said they remained "a committed long-term investor in Arsenal'' which "retains all its options'' and stressed that "no particular course of action is ruled in or out''.

Arsenal's biggest investor is US billionaire Stan Kroenke, who has a 29.98% stake in the club. On Tuesday, Kroenke announced his intention to assume full control of the American football team the St Louis Rams - a move interpreted as a sign that he wouldn't be launching a takeover for Arsenal.

Board member Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has appointed a firm to sell her 15.9% stake in the Gunners. If Kroenke or Usmanov bought Bracewell-Smith's stake it would take them over the 30% threshold which, under City takeover rules, requires them to make a formal offer for the business.

Kroenke already owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids.

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