LONDON (AP) - American businessman Stan Kroenke launched a full takeover bid for Arsenal on Monday after raising his stake in the Premier League club to nearly 63 percent.
Arsenal Holdings said in a statement Monday that Kroenke had agreed to acquire shares primarily from Danny Fiszman, Nina Bracewell-Smith to increase his holding from 29.9 percent to 62.89 percent.
Under takeover rules, Kroenke now has to make a mandatory cash offer for the remaining shares in Arsenal that values the club at $1.2 billion.
“We are excited about the opportunity to increase our involvement with and commitment to Arsenal,” Kroenke said in a statement. “Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger. We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success.”
Kroenke also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer.
“I have worked with Stan Kroenke at board meetings over the past couple of years and I believe he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “He understands the club’s heritage and traditions and our ambition to run the club in a way which protects our long-term future.”
Four other Premier League clubs are owned by Americans _ Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United, John Henry at Liverpool, Randy Lerner at Aston Villa and Ellis Short at Sunderland _ while Chelsea, Manchester City, Fulham, Blackburn and Birmingham are also owned by foreigners.
Kroenke has been steadily increasing his holding in Arsenal since first buying a 9.99 percent stake in April 2007. He was invited onto the board of directors, unlike Alisher Usmanov, a Russian who owns more than 27 percent of the club through investment vehicle Red and White Holdings.
Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said Kroenke “will be a safe custodian” of Arsenal’s future.
“Mr. Kroenke, although relatively new to Arsenal, has shown himself to be a man who values and respects the history and traditions of this very special club that we cherish,” Hill-Wood said.
Little is known about the 63-year-old Kroenke’s plans for Arsenal. Known as “Silent Stan,” he has previously declined to speak at the club’s annual general meeting.
“He’s a strong, silent type, and I think that’s not necessarily the worst thing when it comes to sports team owners,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber, who has talked to Kroenke about his plans for Arsenal. “He’s very loyal. He’s a very quiet and a strategic thinker. He doesn’t make rash decisions.”
That style fits with the prevailing philosophy at Arsenal, which has a tradition of being well-run, avoiding big transfer fees and relying on talent developed through its youth teams.
But Kroenke will come under pressure from fans to invest in a team that has not won a major title since the 2005 FA Cup and last captured the Premier League crown in 2004.