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English Premiership

Usmanov increases Arsenal stake

LONDON, Dec 11 – Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov's Red and White Holdings group moved closer to a takeover of Arsenal on Friday by increasing their stake in the Premier League club to 26.07 percent.ARSENAL_LOGOUnder stock market rules, anyone to cross the 29.99 percent takeover threshold would be obliged to make a formal offer for the remainder of the shares at the highest price paid for stock during the past 12 months.

However, despite his latest share increase, Usmanov still has to contend with American sports magnate Stan Kroenke, who remains the largest individual shareholder in Arsenal with 29.9 percent.

It has been suggested the investment by Kroenke, who is already an Arsenal director, is designed to fend off possible aggressive moves by Usmanov.

Earlier this year the board turned down Usmanov’s proposed rights issue to generate new cash, in favour of the status quo which sees the Emirates Stadium club remain self-financing.

Usmanov had argued the scheme would help to reduce both the long-term debt of some 400 million pounds, which is mainly associated with the new stadium, and also hand manager Arsene Wenger extra transfer funds

Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, who left the board during December last year, could well hold the balance of power with her family’s 15.9 percent stake – which if sold to either Kroenke or Usmanov would push them well past the takeover threshold.

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