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Kroenke Could Be Poised For Arsenal Takeover

Stan Kroenke, the billionaire owner of both the Colorado Rapids and the Denver Nuggets, is "in advanced talks" with English Premier League giant Arsenal that would put him in a strong position for a future takeover of the team, writes Nick Harris. Kroenke, who currently owns 12 per cent of the London club's shares, "will take a place on the club's board within weeks. Crucially, he will also be given first refusal on a majority of the club's shares for the next four years."
 
The American will not own a controlling stake in the team just yet because the group of core directors, headed by Danny Fiszman (24.1 per cent owner) and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9 per cent), are still not ready to sell out their shares. Harris says that Arsenal first tried to persuade Kroenke to accept a seat on the board last fall, "to send a strong message to the Uzbek predator, Alisher Usmanov, that, given a choice of billionaire investors, they preferred Kroenke to Usmanov."
 
In other words, Kroenke would be the lesser of two evils, given Usmanov's past -- a six-year jail sentence in the Soviet Union he claims was for political reasons -- and media speculation about the business practices he used to acquire his vast wealth. Even then, Kroenke won't have forgotten that Arsenal's chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, looked down his nose at him last year and said: "Call me old-fashioned, but we don't need his money and we don't want his sort... [Americans] know absolutely sweet FA about our football." Relations between the board and Kroenke have, however, "since warmed."

Read the whole story at Independent »

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