Arsenal Breaking News: Stan Kroenke Agrees £731m Club Takeover Bid
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American real estate billionaire Stan Kroenke has increased his shareholding in Arsenal to 62.89 percent and has agreed to make an offer for the rest of the club valued at £731m.
A full takeover was triggered after Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) acquired the 16.1 percent stake of Danny Fiszman and family and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith's 15.9 percent stake.
The terms of KSE's offer have been agreed, pricing Arsenal shares at £11,750, valuing the club's equity at £731m.
The 63-year-old Missouri-born real estate entrepreneur is worth £1.7bn and first bought a 9.9 percent stake in Arsenal in 2007.
"We are excited about the opportunity to increase our involvement with and commitment to Arsenal," said 63-year-old Kroenke, whose company also controls basketball's Denver Nuggets, ice hockey side Colorado Avalanche, American football team the St. Louis Rams, and Major League Soccer outfit the Colorado Rapids.
"Arsenal are a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger.
"We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success. I am delighted that Peter Hill-Wood has agreed to support us by continuing as chairman.
"We especially wish to acknowledge and thank the board, Danny Fiszman and the Fiszman family, as well as Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and her family, for the confidence they have had in me over the past years and in allowing us to move forward in this more prominent role."
Will the takeover be the right move for the Gunners?
Most of the remaining shares Kroenke now has to purchase are held by Russian billionaire investor Alisher Usmanov.
Usmanov does not have a seat on the Gunners' board, but his Red and White Holdings owns more than 27% of Arsenal's shares and had also been linked with taking a controlling interest in the past but could now be forced to relinquish his shares to Kroenke.
The reaction from the Gunners' boss was positive: "I have worked with Stan Kroenke at board meetings over the past couple of years and I believe he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart," said Wenger.
"He understands the club's heritage and traditions and ambition to run the club in a way which protects our long-term future."
Arsenal chairman Hill-Wood echoed the Frenchman: "The board of directors and I consider it a key responsibility to protect the ethos and spirit of the club.
"Mr. Kroenke, although relatively new to Arsenal, has shown himself to be a man who values and respects the history and traditions of this very special club that we cherish.
"We are confident that he will be a safe custodian of its future."
With Arsenal still carrying debts of £147m, the worth of the north London outfit can actually be put close to £900m.
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Fears the takeover by KSE, which would take the number of top-flight clubs under foreign ownership to 10, would load the Gunners with more debt have been swiftly allayed.
KSE's statement to the stock exchange read: "The offer will not be funded by way of any debt finance (banks loans, payment-in-kind loans or other debt or quasi-debt interest bearing obligations) for which the payment of interest on, repayment of or security for any liability (contingent or otherwise) will depend on the business of Arsenal."
Kroenke is reportedly happy with how Arsenal are run but it is unclear what his stance is when it comes to the transfer market.
With Wenger's side currently second in the league and still in the hunt for their first piece of silverware since 2005 when they won the FA Cup, Usmanov had previously called for Arsenal to invest heavily on the pitch, but the club's board of directors were quick to steer the club along a more cautious financial path.
The Gunners have focused on using the additional income generated by the 60,300-capacity Emirates, which opened in July 2006, to lower Arsenal's debts.
The stock exchange statement continued: "It is their [KSE's] current intention that, if the offer becomes or is declared unconditional, they will continue to support and adhere to the self-sustaining business model hitherto pursued by the board of Arsenal."
Will Arsene Wenger's transfer policy change if the takeover is successful?
Arsenal supporters will also be very keen to ensure the 'fanshare' scheme launched by the club a while ago will be maintained.
The North Londoners are the only Premier League club where fans can save to buy shares in their club and they will be anxious to make sure their voice is still heard.
Fans may also be hoping for a change of transfer policy, too, as Arsene Wenger has had money to spend on players for a few seasons now but he has chosen not to spend it.
However the question has to be asked that with Stan Kroenke on board, a billionaire businessman with very deep pockets and who invests heavily in the American sports franchises he owns, will it now lead to a change from Wenger and see him spending money to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City?
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