Thu, Oct 04, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Usmanov says he wants controlling Arsenal stake

AFP , MOSCOW

Russian metals billionaire Alisher Usmanov said he planned to become the biggest shareholder of the English Premiership side Arsenal after recently increasing his stake in the club, Russian media reported yesterday.

The 54-year-old said that he has long-term ambitions to buy Arsenal even if he is not able to do so in the immediate future because of the club's prior obligations.

"We don't have the possibility to buy the side today, but this is business and life is changing," Usmanov said. "Something that you can't do today, can be possible to do tomorrow."

Usmanov recently raised his stake in Arsenal to 23 percent and called his investment in the Premiership side "a good portfolio investment" indicating also that he would consider a takeover should shareholders decide to sell their stakes in Arsenal at the "right" price.

Usmanov also stressed his respect and his understanding of the importance of the side's manager Arsene Wenger to the prosperity of the club.

"I want to be a part of the club where the great Wenger is working," Usmanov told the press.

Usmanov's stake, held through the firm Red and White Holdings Limited (RAWHL) which he controls, makes him the club's second largest shareholder behind Danny Fiszman, who owns just more than 24 percent.

However, Fiszman and fellow board members Peter Hill-Wood, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Richard Carr have a so-called "lockdown agreement" not to sell their shares until April next year at the earliest.

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