Business Briefing: Russian magnate guns for Arsenal

Click to follow
The Independent Online

London could soon have another Russian billionaire football club owner. Metals magnate Alisher Usmanov, with an associate, bought a 14.6 per cent stake in Arsenal. He paid the club's former vice-chairman, David Dein, £75m for the holding.

Who is he?

Mr Usmanov made much of his estimated £5bn fortune from mining. He is head of the investment arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom and is said to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Why has he done it?

He claims he is an Arsenal fan, but it's the club's finances and its TV rights income he's interested in. Sky and Setanta are paying clubs £1.7bn to show Premier League action for three seasons, with £50m going to the champions. He told a newspaper: "This purchase is not a strategic or a political one. It's a portfolio investment."

What's his gameplan?

Mr Usmanov added: "My aim is to steadily increase my package because I think the value of it will grow and will soon reach a higher level." He also wants to put a representative on the board to give him an insight into the club's finances ahead of a possible fully blown takeover bid.

And the other directors and shareholders?

That could be a problem. Board members hold some 45 per cent of the shares and have agreed not to sell until April. Directors are thought to be keen to keep the club in British ownership.

Comments