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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Russia's Usmanov not ruling out Arsenal bid

Russia's Usmanov not ruling out Arsenal bid

April 14, 2010 20:37 IST

Red & White Holdings, the investment vehicle of Russian steel magnate Alisher Usmanov, has left the door ajar for a takeover of Premier League soccer club Arsenal, saying it will keep all options open.

In a statement on Tuesday, Red & White, which currently holds a 26 percent stake in the north London-based club, said it remains a "committed long-term investor".

"At this stage Red & White retains all its options and does not wish for the purposes of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers to reduce its future flexibility and accordingly no particular course of action is ruled in or out," it said.

The chances of an offer for the club materialising intensified this week after one of its biggest shareholders, Nina Bracewell-Smith, hired US private equity firm Blackstone to find a buyer for her 16 percent stake.

That led to speculation that either Usmanov or US sports tycoon Stan Kroenke, who has a 29.9 percent stake, could make a bid for the club.

If either of them were to acquire Bracewell-Smith's stake, it would take them over the 30 percent threshold which requires a formal offer to be made for the business under City takeover rules.

However, the chances of Kroenke making a bid diminished on Tuesday when he made a surprise move to buy the St Louis Rams American football team. He had been expected to sell his 40 percent holding in the NFL outfit, possibly to fund a takeover of Arsenal.

Arsenal currently sit third in the Premier League and remain in with a chance of winning the title for the first time since 2004.


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