Archive for September 18th, 2007

Red & White can price the board out of the market, and maybe Arsenal

Add comment September 18th, 2007

Yesterday, Gunnerblog was first to tell Arsenal fans that Red & White had upped their stake in Arsenal.  What I didn’t realise was quite how much.

This morning it has emerged that Red & White have taken their shareholding over 21%.  A series of deals involving smaller shareholders and the investment company Lansdowne Partners (who owned around 3%) has taken Alisher Usmanov’s investment in the club close to if not over the £100m mark.

Red & White will release the same spiel about simply increasing their stake without a view to a takeover, but what kind of businessman invests £100m in a company that doesn’t pay dividends at a price significantly above the going share rate?  Buying Dein’s shares essentially changed nothing, but this is an overtly aggresive move towards a takeover.

People keep talking about the board having enough “friends” to place them over the vital 50% mark.  But at £10,000-a-share, those friends might be harder to come by. 

Yesterday’s developments show that Red & White are prepared to pay whatever is required to secure the shares that become available.  And there will be plenty of those.  Whoever you are, £10,000 is an awful lot of money, especially when you consider you might have picked up your share for less than a grand in the mid-nineties.  The board, meanwhile, probably do not have the funds to compete with the Uzbek.

We’re now at a point where Usmanov could very soon become Arsenal’s majority shareholder.  Even saying that turns my stomach.  It might not mean a huge amount in terms of completing a takeover, but it means a lot to people associated with the club.

In the coming weeks, Red & White will creep closer and closer to the 30% mark.  With each share they buy, what happens to Stan Kroenke’s stake becomes more and more crucial.  As much as I hate to say it, nothing has changed my view that the arrival of Usmanov on the scene gave a takeover a horrible inevitability.

In other news, Armand Traore was arrested after carrying “an offensive weapon”.  Rumours that he was looking angry and asking if anyone had seen David Dein remain unconfirmed.

Arsene has a press conference today, which could provide all sorts of juicy tidbits.  Bye for now.

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