Kroenke raises Arsenal stake

2009-05-02 14:11

London - US sports tycoon Stan Kroenke has increased his stake in English Premiership club Arsenal to 28.3 percent after buying 4 839 shares from members of director Richard Carr's family, the club said on Friday.

Kroenke, who joined the Arsenal board last year, paid more than 41 million pounds for the shares having purchased them for between 8 500 and 10 500 pounds each, the club said in a statement on its website.

"As a result of the acquisition, Stan Kroenke has a beneficial interest in, and controls voting rights over 17 613 ordinary shares in the company, representing 28.3 percent of the company's issued ordinary shares," the club said.

The prices paid value the club at over 525 million pounds.

Kroenke, owner of the US Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer team, had raised his stake in the north London club to 20.5 percent at the end of March by buying a third of director Daniel Fiszman's holding for 42.5 million pounds.

Arsenal, who trail Manchester United 1-0 in the Champions League semi-final ahead of next week's second leg, have been at the centre of takeover speculation after Kroenke and then Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov started building stakes.

Usmanov was the largest shareholder with about 25 percent before Kroenke added to his stake and the American is now close to the 30 percent threshold that would force him to make an automatic offer for the remaining shares.

However, Kroenke has previously said he was not interested in pursuing a full buyout.

The American's increased investment was welcomed on Friday by the Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST), whose members hold about three percent of the club's equity. It issued a statement on the AST website saying: "The AST were the first shareholders at Arsenal to welcome Kroenke's initial investment. We have since established a good dialogue with him and this will continue.

"Our position is that stability and plurality in ownership is to the benefit of Arsenal."

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said Carr would remain a director of the club.