AN African billionaire has joined the race to take control of Arsenal.
Manufacturing mogul Aliko Dangote, worth over £2.5bn, is understood to be keen to snap up the 16 per cent stake in the club held by Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith.
Speculation has been mounting that a bid may be forthcoming from one of the club’s existing stakeholders, with American Stan Kroenke and Russian Alisher Usmanov both mulling an offer.
The entry of a third party into the fray throws the contest wide open, with Bracewell-Smith’s stake in the club key to a successful takeover.
However, a source close to the matter told City A.M. that bad blood between Bracewell-Smith and Kroenke runs deep after she was acrimoniously dumped from the club’s board of directors in 2008, and she is reluctant to do business with him. She is also said to be cool on striking a deal with Usmanov.
A bid for Bracewell-Smith’s shares by either Kroenke or Usmanov would force them to make a full offer for the Emirates and it is unlikely Dangote would buy the shares without intending to take control of the club.
Investors were alerted last month by news Bracewell-Smith has hired asset management specialist Blackstone to oversee her stake.