Tycoon denies Arsenal interest
Lagos - Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote on Monday denied reports that he has plans to buy a 16% stake in English Premiership club Arsenal.
Dangote, listed by the US magazine Forbes as one of the world's richest men, was earlier cited by a local daily saying he was considering buying Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith's stake in the club.
That stake is worth 96 million pounds, making her Arsenal's fourth largest shareholder.
But later, in a statement, Dangote said he had in the past examined the possibilities of acquiring a stake, but has since dropped the idea.
"I have been involved in conversations around investment in the past. However, I can say categorically at this time that I have no intention of investing in the club and will not be acquiring a stake," he said.
A local daily, ThisDay, had earlier quoted Dangote, a longstanding supporter of Arsenal, saying he had "for a while" been considering investing in the team.
"It started in 1980 when I forged a relationship with Mr David Dein, former vice-chairperson of the board of Arsenal.
"That is when I developed an interest in Arsenal, and when the opportunity presented itself to acquire a stake in the club, I went for it," he was quoted as saying in the paper.
His spokesperson Joseph Okonmah had also earlier said Dangote had been interested in investing in Arsenal.
Dangote controls much of the west African country's commodity manufacturing and trade including cement, sugar, flour, pasta, salt, cooking oil and textile products among others.
Forbes magazine has rated him one of the world's richest Africans with a net worth of around $3.3bn.