According to the Financial Times, Alisher Usmanov is ‘actively exploring a sale of his stake’ in Arsenal, having come to the conclusion that he will never be anything other than a minority shareholder.
The Russian oligarch has made offers to Stan Kroenke in the past to purchase the 67.09% held by the American and his KSE holding company, but has been rebuffed each time.
The report quotes an insider who says, “He was really frustrated that Kroenke wouldn’t sell at any price and now just wants out.”
The difficult for Usmanov is that it’s not exactly an easy sale to make. He has no seat on the board, and trying to convince anybody to pay hundreds of millions of pounds so they can be similarly excluded by Kroenke seems nigh on impossible.
The conclusion one might come to then is that in order to make the sale, and to perhaps reinvest in another club, the only obvious buyer is the current majority shareholder.
Usmanov has expressed an unwillngness to sell to his great rival in the past, but the reality of the situation may leave him with no other option. Who pays that much money to own shares but have no influence on the running of the club? And why would Kroenke allow anyone else to join the board?
If the sale between the two men were to happen, then Kroenke would own 97.13% of the club’s shares, allowing him under current rules to compulsorily purchase all remaining shares and take the club private.
Usmanov’s former partner in Red and White Holdings, Farhad Moshiri, took a 49.9% stake in Everton two years ago, and it’s long been mooted that the two could join up again. That purchase was the subject of an investigation late last year.
From an Arsenal perspective though, this is a somewhat worrying development and a significant change in position from Usmanov.