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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Billionaire Arsenal shareholder said to mull sale of 30 per stake in club

Russian Alisher Usmanov is reportedly exploring a sale of his 30 per cent stake in the English football club

Alisher Usmanov (R). The billionaire is said to have lost patience with club's majority shareholder. Bloomberg
Alisher Usmanov (R). The billionaire is said to have lost patience with club's majority shareholder. Bloomberg

Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov is exploring a sale of his 30 per cent stake in English football club Arsenal, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the billionaire's thinking.

Mr Usmanov, the club's second-largest shareholder, had previously made a $1.3 billion offer to buy out the club's majority owner Stan Kroenke, but Kroenke's KSE (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment) UK said its shares in the Premier League club were not for sale, according to Reuters.

Mr Usmanov has given up all hope of acquiring the club outright, according to the sources.

Both Arsenal and a representative for Mr Usmanov were not immediately available to comment, Reuters said..

In October, the UK paper The Guardian reported that Mr Kroenke, who owns 67 per cent of the club, had bid almost £525m to buy out Mr Usmanov.

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A consortium of the remaining shareholders expressed dismay at the pair's inability to get along. A spokesman for the consortium, which has been in communication with Mr Kroenke and Mr Usmanov for close to a year, expressed concerns about the situation. “We are owned 97 per cent by two very wealthy individuals but it is a disappointment that they have never managed to get together and see eye to eye to move the club forward," The Guardian reported at the time. "The benefit of their wealth and experience could have been felt in unison but Arsenal has not been able to gain from it.”

Mr Usmanov, with a fortune of $14.5 billion according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, owns 48 per cent of USM Holdings, a British Virgin Islands-based entity that controls Metalloinvest, Russia's largest iron ore producer, and mobile phone company MegaFon. He's also invested in Alibaba, Airbnb, JD.Com and Spotify, and controls Kommersant, a Russian newspaper.