Dangote May Buy Club Other Than Arsenal If Kroenke Won't Sell
(Bloomberg) -- Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, said he would consider buying a soccer club other than London-based Arsenal if controlling shareholder Stan Kroenke refuses to sell.
Dangote has long said he wants to buy the Premier League team, of which he’s a fan, but only after he’s completed one of the world’s biggest oil refineries in Lagos, Nigeria. Also on his to-do list: The investment of billions of dollars in sugar, rice and dairy production in the West African nation and the sale of shares of his cement company in London.
“By the time we’ve finished, we’ll be a $30 billion company in terms of revenue,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the New Economy Forum in Singapore. “We’ll have an excess amount of cash to start playing around with.”
Kroenke owns almost all of Arsenal after buying Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s 30 percent stake in August in a deal that valued the club at about 1.8 billion pounds ($2.4 billion). It was funded with a 557 million-pound, two-year loan from Deutsche Bank AG. The 71-year-old American is worth $8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and also controls the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams.
“I’m very attached to Arsenal but if he won’t sell, I might have to change,” said Dangote, 61 years old and worth $11.1 billion. “I’m very much a fan of football. I have to have a club. I don’t have to own Arsenal.”
The refinery is scheduled to start producing fuel in early 2020, and Lagos-based Dangote Cement Plc will probably be listed in London around September next year, he told Bloomberg.
Arsenal is the sixth-largest soccer club in the world, generating revenue of 488 million euros ($556 million) in the 2016-17 season, according to Deloitte LLP. It’s ranked fifth in this season’s Premier League, and last lifted the trophy in 2004.
London rival Chelsea, the eighth-biggest club globally, may be on the market. Its owner, Roman Abramovich, has hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advise on the possibility of a full or partial sale. He wants 3 billion pounds, a person familiar with the discussions has said, having bought the club out of near-bankruptcy in 2003 for 140 million pounds.
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