If the subject of Arsenal’s shareholders is a bit dull to you, then maybe skip this one. Don’t leave some sarky comment afterwards, because I have warned you. If you’d rather just see Spurs fans making fools of themselves in blog comments, go and read this instead.
As you probably know, Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings announced on October 17 that they now had 30% of Arsenal’s shares for the first time. R&W have done most of their buying away from the public gaze of the ISDX market, preferring to write to shareholders individually and offer a no-hassle private transaction. Many small shareholders have taken this offer up. R&W have always said, sometimes quite forcibly, that they have never paid more than £14,000 for a share, despite the market price on ISDX being up to £17,500. It’s settled back a little in recent months, but the last time a share was publicly traded for £14,000 or below was April 2012. Around 200 shares have gone for more than £14,000, so I have always wondered how true the R&W statement was, not to mention their reasons for insisting on telling everyone.
As it happens, Arsenal have to submit company returns which include details of shareholdings and how much has been paid for them. (A recent copy has been kindly provided to me by Andrew Fyffe, AKA @PR_WhoRu.) In the return for the period October 12, 2012 to October 17, 2013 it appears that R&W declared that they’d spent $2.14m dollars on shares. They also give the percentage shareholdings at those dates, though these are rounded so you can’t work out exact numbers. However, I know from keeping tabs myself that R&W bought precisely 84 shares during that period. Or at least that’s what they declared, and it would be illegal to declare something untrue. Far be it for any Arsenal shareholder to be mixed up in something illegal. Ahem.
$2.14m divided by 84 is $25,476.19, so that’s the average R&W have paid in dollars.
The dollar/pound exchange rate for this period has varied between a high of $1.628 and a low of $1.486. Let’s be on the safe side and take the top figure as the rate for all R&W purchases. That would mean that R&W had paid an average – an average, note – of £15,726 per share.
In reality the exchange rate average for the year is around $1.55, in which case R&W would have paid an average of £16,436.
Clearly the exact figures depend on the rates when purchases occurred, but it certainly appears that R&W have been paying rather more than £14,000 a share.
Does it matter? In the grand scheme of things, not much. But if you’re paying around £16,000 per share, why go round telling everyone something else? It won’t affect the cost of any offer R&W make for Stan Kroenke’s majority holding. If Usmanov was a bit strapped for cash he might want to pretend he’d only pay £14,000 to discourage others from asking more than that, but a) he’s rolling in money, and b) as a tactic it clearly didn’t work anyway. Maybe he just wants to look cleverer than everyone else. It’s just one more thing that looks odd about how Usmanov is conducting his business relating to Arsenal and it looks a bit like he’s not been telling the truth. I wonder why not.
Of course I may be completely wrong about all this and R&W have, in some mysterious way, been telling the absolute 100% truth all along. If so I stand to be corrected. As the man with the orthopedic shoes said.
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Andrew’s blog is at: http://gilesgrimandi.wordpress.com/