Well we saw it coming and we told you about it! A bid for Arsenal Holdings Plc is now in our opinion imminent. And Stan Kroenke already the owner of 11.26% of Arsenal’s shares (after he bought ITV’s 9.99% holding) looks like he is acting with Dan Fiszman’s blessing, as predicted in our last posting on the matter, The times they are a changing……Arsenal to be sold.
We said: “If he has already convinced Fiszman to sell 1% then probably they have agreed for the remainder of the shares to be bought later or for Fiszman to support the bid and remain on the Board.”
Dan Fiszman apparently has sold his house in Hampstead for 20m. He has been living in Geneva as, what we would assume, a tax “exile”. Obviously Fiszman is breaking ranks from the rest of the shareholders.
Members of the Board now may be considering entering into negotiations with Kroenke while Fiszman’s 24.1% holding and his apparent alliance with Kroenke is hanging above them like a damoclean sword.
Kroenke has made a very courageous investment of 43m PLUS an additional undertaking of 23m to buy half of Arsenal Broadband from ITV. That’s a lot of money (66m) to pay if you are not expecting to lodge a successful bid and take control of a company. Certainly keeping it there as an investment (as Wenger naively suggested) does not fit in with Kroenke’s investment profile and business behaviour.
He already owns five sports franchises in the USA including the Colorado Rapids MLS side. He is obviously a “hands on” entrepreneur so why would he “lock” 43m worth of his valuable resources in a company where he could not influence its future profitability and returns to equity?
All the above make us suspicious that for him to have made this move he must be feeling very confident of succeeding and pretty soon. Probably sooner than a lot of people are expecting.
Will all this affect the football side of things?
If there is prolonged haggling over what price the existing shareholders will be willing to sell and what role they will play in a new Corporate Arsenal then this uncertainty may spill over to the players and the coaching staff. So it is important to get it over with as soon as possible.
What will Wenger’s position be?
Does his earlier statement that Kroenke’s is looking at Arsenal as an “investment” mean that he could be hostile to all this? He should not be. It may in fact turn out that more money may now be made available to him than what the existing Board were willing to release. Kroenke has in fact splashed out the money for his other “franchises” and has paid huge sums to buy players (even at the expense of incurring expensive fines) and bring success.
A contrary issue is how Kroenke will finance the take over. If the bid is highly leveraged (i.e he borrows most of the money than putting up his own) then the prospect of squeezing the finances at Arsenal to service those loans may indeed affect the footballing side of things.
Existing shareholders of Arsenal please note.