Kroenke ups Arsenal stake to 20.5%

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The Independent Online

The US sports tycoon Stan Kroenke has increased his stake in Premier League club Arsenal to 20.5 per cent after buying a third of director Daniel Fiszman's holding for 42.5 million pounds.

Arsenal said in a statement that Kroenke, owner of U.S. Colorado Rapids football team and a member of the Arsenal board, bought 5,000 shares at 8,500 pounds apiece.

That price values the club at about 525 million pounds.

Kroenke said he wanted to work with his board colleagues to maintain a stable environment and "preserve the self-sustaining business model enjoyed by the club."

Fiszman, who now owns just over 16 per cent of the total issued shared capital, said he would not sell any more shares.

"I am ... delighted that (Kroenke) has shown this desire to deepen his ties with Arsenal," Fiszman said in a statement. "I will of course continue to work for Arsenal with the best interests of the club at heart and have no intention of selling any more of my shareholding."

Fiszman, who was heavily involved in developing Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, told the club's web site he saw Kroenke's increasing involvement as a positive development.

Arsenal, drawn against Villarreal in the quarter finals of the Champions League, have been at the centre of takeover speculation after Kroenke and then Russian Alisher Usmanov started building stakes.

Most Arsenal board members had agreed not to sell their stakes for a set period in an effort to stave off a takeover, but Fiszman said the other members had agreed to the deal.

"Stan Kroenke has proved to be a valuable member of the board and I am pleased that he has demonstrated further commitment to the club," chairman Peter Hill-Wood said.

Kroenke has previously said he is not interested in pursuing a full buyout. Usmanov is the largest shareholder with around 25 per cent.

The Arsenal Supporters' Trust, whose members hold around 3 per cent of the club's equity, said they had been supportive of Kroenke joining the board and welcomed his expertise.

"If a sale had to take place we are reassured that it is to Stan," it said on the Trust's web site. "The fact that Stan Kroenke is already a member of the board at Arsenal should ensure that this change does not create any instability."

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