MYSTERY surrounding the future of Arsenal has deepened after the club’s largest investor Stan Kroenke decided to snap up the remaining shares in his American football franchise St Louis Rams.
The US billionaire’s move casts doubt on his ability to launch a takeover of the Gunners, just hours after it seemed the Premier League outfit’s ownership saga might be coming to a head.
Kroenke surprised analysts by opting to up his stake in the Rams – a move that will cost him $450m (£293m). He had until Monday to decide whether to accept an offer for his 40 per cent shareholding in the NFL side, but instead decided to match it and launch his own takeover.
With 29 per cent of Arsenal’s stock to his name, he is only 10 shares shy of the 30 per cent threshold that would, under trading rules, oblige him to make an offer for all other shares.
It is expected the reclusive entrepreneur known as ‘Silent Stan’ will attempt to gain full control at the Emirates Stadium at some point, and speculation that the day was fast approaching raged on Monday when it emerged the club’s fourth-largest shareholder Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith had appointed US buyout group Blackstone to sell her 15.9 per cent stake.
Although she is thought to be reluctant to sell to Kroenke or his Russian rival Alisher Usmanov, whose Red and White investment vehicle owns 26 per cent, they are the most credible potential buyers.
Kroenke may have the wealth to bid for Arsenal and the Rams buttaking on both at once would be a major undertaking.