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Kroenke on brink of Arsenal takeover

American businessman Stan Kroenke is inching closer to a formal takeover of English Premier League side Arsenal.
American businessman Stan Kroenke is inching closer to a formal takeover of English Premier League side Arsenal.
  • Denver businessman Stan Kroenke increases stake in English Premier League side Arsenal
  • Kroenke has a 29.9 holding just short of the 29.99 mark which demands a formal takeover bid
  • Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has 25.4 per cent share
  • The cost for Kroenke to complete the takeover is reported to be $760 million

(CNN) -- American businessman Stan Kroenke is on the verge of a formal takeover of English Premier League side Arsenal, after increasing his shareholding in the side on Thursday.

Kroenke paid $2.8 million for a further 200 shares to take his majority shareholding in the club's holding company to 29.9 per cent.

This figure is fractionally below the 29.99 per cent limit which -- if attained by Kroenke -- would require the U.S. billionaire, under British law, to launch an automatic bid for the remaining shares.

British newspaper, The Times, reported that a complete takeover would cost $760 million and that Kroenke's moves so far have drawn a cool response from the respected Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST).

"While we welcome Kroenke's involvement, we agree there is no need for any shareholder to launch a takeover of the club," the trust said.

"The AST believes in plurality of ownership. If a takeover is launched by any party, we would seek urgent discussions with those involved."

Denver-based sports magnate Kroenke has been edging towards the takeover mark, acquiring 437 shares in recent weeks and before that a $1.249 million purchase in October.

Kroenke already owns the Colorado Rapids, the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche sports franchises in his native Colorado.

He is nicknamed "Silent Stan" for his low-key approach and declined the opportunity to address fellow shareholders at the club's recent annual general meeting.

Chairman Peter-Hill Wood came to his rescue, warning of public statements of bid intentions under English Stock Exchange rules.

Uzbek-born Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov is the second biggest shareholder with 25.4 per cent in the north-London club, who have made a fine start to the season under manager Arsene Wenger, but may now be the subject of a takeover battle.

He flirts with the 30 (per cent) but he is not there
--Arsene Wenger

Frenchman Wenger told reporters on Tuesday that he was unconcerned about Kroenke's latest move "as long as it does not change my vision for the club."

He added: "He flirts with the 30 (per cent) but he is not there. I don't know what his intentions are. I have never spoken about that to him."

Arsenal have traditionally operated with a smaller budget than their Premier League rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea.

Their move to the Emirates Stadium put further drain on their resources and led to speculation of foreign investors taking a bigger stake.