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Kroenke increases Arsenal stake

LONDON, Nov 3 – United States businessman Stan Kroenke moved closer towards being obliged to launch a takeover bid for Arsenal after purchasing 427 more shares in the English Premier League club.ARSENAL_LOGOIt was announced on Tuesday that Kroenke, having spent some 3.6 million pounds (5.8 million dollars), had upped his stake in Arsenal to 29.6 percent, fractionally short of the 29.9 percent mark that would require him to launch a takoever for Arsenal under English law.

Last week the Denver-based Kroenke, already Arsenal’s largest individual shareholder, had increased his stake to 28.9 percent after buying 10 additional shares at a cost of some 85,000 pounds (138,712 dollars).

That followed his 765,000 pounds (1.249 million dollars) share purchase in the London club last month.

At Arsenal’s recent Annual General Meeting (AGM), Kroenke remained silent when asked about his plans.

Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood intervened, pointing out any public statements regarding future bid intentions must be unambiguous, otherwise the individual or group would, under the rules, be prevented from making a formal move for six months.

"I don’t think we are looking for a change in custodian," Hill-Wood told the AGM. "I think you will find the club is in pretty good hands.

"I believe he (Kroenke) is happy to be a long-term shareholder in our club."

Kroenke’s steady acquisition of shares has already created plenty of speculation about his ambitions for the club and a takeover by the American would inevitably raise questions about the potential impact on Arsene Wenger’s future.

Gunners boss Wenger has always enjoyed a close relationship with the Arsenal board and he admitted on Tuesday that he has not spoken with Kroenke.

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But the Frenchman insisted a takeover wouldn’t make him consider leaving north London unless he was told his vision for the club was no longer acceptable.

"As long as I am not told I have to change the way I see the vision for the club on the technical side, as long as nobody interferes with that, then I do not see what kind of impact it could have on me," Wenger said.

"You know me well enough to know that I believe I have shown I can manage a club on the technical side and I have that guarantee at the club no matter who the owner will be.

"I do not know what Kroenke will do. All I know is the rules, that if he gets to 30 percent, he has to make a bid for the club.

"At the moment, he flirts with the 30, but is not there. I do not know what his intentions are, I have not spoken to him about it.

"Inside the club, on a daily basis, it does not change anything."

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