Just a brief post this morning. Arsenal.com yesterday updated the published share position for the two major shareholders to show that Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings now have a total of 18,637 shares. This is ten more than they had last time the figure was updated on 5 December, and leaves them exactly 29 short of the 18,666 needed for 30 per cent of Arsenal. At the same time, there have been no public trades on the ISDX exchange for this period, so Mr U is continuing to buy by writing direct to shareholders and negotiating with them as individuals. (To be completely honest, there was one single share trade listed on ISDX earlier this week, which has now been removed from their website again. They’ve told me before that sometimes there’s a hitch in the paperwork and they have to take the trade back off, but they usually sort things out and they reappear within a couple of days.)
I’ve written about all this before, so I won’t go into it at length, but if you’re wondering what the share totals mean, here’s the summary:
- Normally anyone reaching a 30 per cent shareholding in a company triggers a compulsory full takeover bid – as it did for Stan Kroenke with Arsenal in 2011
- In this case, as there is already a majority shareholder – Stan – this ‘rule’ will not be enforced by the Takeover Panel (Takeover Panel ‘rules’ are very broad and the Panel can basically decide whatever it thinks is fair in the individual situation)
- In fact Alisher Usmanov can make a bid any time he wants to anyway, and for all I know phones Stan every week with a bid that Stan rejects
- Up until last summer there was a Premier League rule that implied that anyone holding 30 per cent of a club was deemed an ‘owner’, and owners have to certify all large financial transactions; thus if you had 30 per cent you needed access to all the financial information in order to comply
- The Premier League changed this rule in the summer to make it clear that if there is a majority shareholder then no one else needs to be an ‘owner’, so Mr Usmanov seems most unlikely to get access to anything if and when he reaches 30 per cent
- Nonetheless he has continued to buy shares since the summer, and seems certain to reach 30 per cent very shortly (rumours abound that he has had sufficient shares lined up for some months and is just waiting for the right moment to put them into his name and announce he now has 30 per cent
- The benefit of reaching 30 per cent, given Takeover Panel decisions and PL rule changes, seems purely symbolic – unless Mr Usmanov has something up his sleeve; I strongly suspect that we will find out in January
- What happens next might depend on Arsène Wenger – if he makes major signings in January and everything looks rosy, then Mr Usmanov might stay quiet; if nothing happens Mr Usmanov may feel the time is right to try and apply pressure. What can he do? In legal terms not a lot on the face of it – Stan has all the cards. But Mr Usmanov has continued to buy shares for a reason. Maybe when he reaches his 30 per cent target, we’ll find out exactly what the reason is.
If you’re new here, I’ve done various Usmanov/share posts before, so if you search for ‘angryofislington Usmanov Q&A’ you’ll find most or all of them pretty easily.
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