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Apr 10, 2011

Kroenke set to launch Arsenal takeover

US businessman Stan Kroenke is set to take full control of Arsenal, according to reports.

Sky News suggest that Colorado-based Kroenke, who owns close to 30% of the North London club, is set to purchase the 16% shares of both Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Danny Fiszman. The BBC suggest that Kroenke will acquire 16.1% owned by Fiszman and 15.9% owned by Lady Nina for around £11,000 a share, to pay £225 million to take his share to 62%.

Crossing that threshold of 29.99% means that Kroenke, under UK takeover laws and just like the Glazer family did in taking over Manchester United in 2005 when they bought the near-10% owned by Irish tycoons John Magnier and JP McManus, must launch a formal bid for the rest of the shares in the club. Kroenke will be obliged to offer the market rate for the remaining shares.

Lady Nina's shares have been on sale for some time, while Fiszman's involvement in the club has been lessened by a fight against cancer. Fiszman was the driving force behind the club's move to the Emirates Stadium in 2007.

Kroenke owns multiple sports franchises in the United States, including the Colorado Rapids and the NBA's Denver Nuggets. Should the move take place, then he will have won his battle with Russo-Uzbek magnate Alisher Usmanov for eventual control of Arsenal.

Usmanov's move for the club, which began with his 14.58% purchase in August 2007, eventually rising to 25% in Feburary 2009, has been stymied by a 'lock-down' agreement by the Gunners' board, whereby chairman Peter Hill-Wood announced that club directors could sell their stakes only to 'permitted persons' before April 2009 and had to give fellow board members 'first option' on shares until October 2012.

The American has been involved since buying 9.9% of the club in April 2007, and has been steadily increasing his stake since. He officially joined Arsenal's board of directors in September 2008.

The Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) have given a cautiously optimistic welcome to the news. A statement said: "AST thinks it is really important that supporters remain involved in Arsenal's ownership structure.

"Stan Kroenke has a good relationship with the AST and recently supported our fanshare scheme.

"We are hopeful of having discussions with him to discuss how our members and Arsenal supporters can keep their shares in Arsenal Football Club."

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