More on the Arsenal takeover
Arsenal Would Reject Takeover, Wants to Stay English
Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood said he's prepared to fight any takeover attempt by Stan Kroenke, the U.S. billionaire with a 12.2 percent stake, and that he wants to keep the Premiership soccer club English-owned.
``Call me old-fashioned, but we don't need his money and we don't want his sort,'' Hill-Wood, a former director of Hambros Bank Plc, told BBC radio today. ``They know absolutely sweet F.A. about our football and we don't want these type of people involved.''
Hill-Wood's comments follow the departure two days ago of Vice Chairman David Dein because of what the London club termed ``irreconcilable differences'' with fellow directors. Dein wanted Kroenke to increase his stake, U.K. media reported. Buying Dein's 14.5 percent would make him the largest shareholder and move him closer to the 30 percent mark that triggers a mandatory bid.
Any takeover by Kroenke, who owns Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, would make Arsenal the eighth Premiership team owned by foreign investors and the fourth to fall into U.S. hands. Malcolm Glazer owns Manchester United, Randy Lerner acquired Aston Villa and Liverpool was bought in February by Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, won the last two Premiership titles.
Need for Stability
``Stability is important,'' coach Arsene Wenger told reporters today. ``Money is not necessarily the key to success next season. We can beat all these teams.''
Paul Andrews, the chief marketing officer for Kroenke Sports Enterprises, said the organization never comments on speculation regarding its investments.
``Americans are buying up chunks of the Premiership not because of their love of football but because they see an opportunity to make money,'' Hill-Wood said. ``Our objective is to keep Arsenal English, but with a lot of foreign players.''
The remaining board members, who own 45.45 percent, agreed not to sell their shares for at least a year to signal they remain ``long-term holders,'' Hill-Wood said two days ago. That, according to Tom Cannon, a soccer analyst at England's Buckingham Business School, is probably enough to repel a bid.
``One can be pretty confident that from the smaller shareholders they can pick up the remaining 4.5 percent of shares to pretty well control 50 percent,'' he said. ``It's almost inevitable they will be able to block a full-blown takeover.''
Arsenal shares rose 175 pounds, or 2.6 percent, to a record 6,950 pounds, valuing the club at 432 million pounds ($865 million). The stock has climbed 39 percent since the Rapids signed an alliance with Arsenal on Feb. 8. Kroenke acquired 9.9 percent from broadcaster ITV Plc in early April and lifted his stake further since then.
Dein, who hasn't commented since his departure, is an influential figure in the politics of English and European soccer. A former F.A. vice chairman and current chairman of the G-14, comprising 18 of Europe's biggest teams, he was instrumental in hiring Arsene Wenger, who has led Arsenal to three league championships and four F.A. Cups.
``We've lost a man of class, intelligence and competence who contributed highly to the success and development of the club,'' said Wenger. ``Even if I'm sad, it's best to consider the interests of the club.''