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Aresenal's fouth-largest shareholder puts shares up for sale

Tue 13th Apr 2010 | Clubs Ownership

Arsenal’s fourth-largest shareholder, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, formally put her stake up for sale yesterday.

The move is sure to reignite the boardroom battle at Arsenaland could upset the delicate balance of power between the club’s largest shareholders, Stan Kroenke, the American sports tycoon, and Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek-born mining billionaire.

Bracewell-Smith has long expressed her desire to sell her 15.9 per cent shareholding, but her decision to appoint bankers from Blackstone indicates that her stake is now available.

Kroenke, who has a seat on the Arsenal board, owns 29.9 per cent of the club, the maximum he can hold under City rules without launching an outright takeover bid. Usmanov, the second-biggest shareholder with a 26 per cent stake, has never been offered a directorship.

The club fear that Bracewell-Smith’s stake will end up in the hands of someone willing to work with Usmanov, ending three years of stability. Usmanov, who has a fortune of $1.6 billion (about £1.04 billion), declined to comment yesterday. A source close to him said that he has no plans to bid for the club, but wants to increase his personal holding to 29.9 per cent.

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