After Chelsea, now Arsenal heading for a Russian takeover

December 18th, 2008 - 2:59 pm ICT by IANS  

ChelseaLondon, Dec 18 (IANS) After Chelsea, Arsenal has become the latest English Premier League club heading towards a Russian take over.After Nina Bracewell-Smith’s removal Wednesday as the club’s director for three years, there are apprehensions that she may sell her 15.9 percent stake, estimated at £50 million ($77 million), reported the Guardian Wednesday.

Bracewell-Smith’s removal came after a major argument with her fellow directors. In October, Bracewell-Smith said that she “never considered selling” her shares in Arsenal. But her fellow directors are fearing that she may sell her stakes to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov. Last year Usmanov bought 14.5 percent stakes worth £75 million ($116 million) from former vice-chairman David Dein.

If Usmanov were to acquire Bracewell-Smith’s stake, he would be forced under stockmarket rules to make an offer for the whole club as his holding would exceed 29.9 percent, the threshold for investment stakes.

Arsenal’s chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, suggested existing directors may buy Bracewell-Smith’s shares if she sells but said he hoped she will not.

“A number of the board have indicated in the past that they are interested in buying more shares so the future stability of the club is secure,” Hill-Wood was quoted as saying by the daily.

In the past Usmanov has made clear he has no intention of buying a majority shareholding in Arsenal but Wednesday’s events appear to have altered that stance.

“We are watching developments with interest,” a spokesman of Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings investment vehicle told the newspaper.

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