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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 19:17 GMT 20:17 UK
Arsenal meet with Usmanov firm
Alisher Usmanov
Usmanov is a metals magnate
Arsenal have held a meeting with Red and White Holdings Limited (RAWHL), an investment company that owns nearly a quarter of the club's shares.

Earlier on Friday RAWHL, jointly owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and London-based Farhad Moshiri, upped its stake in Arsenal to 23%.

RAWHL is now the second-largest shareholder behind Arsenal director Danny Fiszman, who owns 24.11%.

Arsenal insisted in a statement that it was not about to sell up.

"The board of Arsenal Holdings wish to confirm that a constructive meeting took place between Peter Hill-Wood, Keith Edelman and Farhad Moshiri of Red and White Holdings Limited," said the statement.

"Board members of Arsenal Football Club wish to reiterate their intention of retaining their shareholding in the club and have no intention of selling any shares.


"The board believe that the continued success of the club can best be achieved by the company remaining independent."

Moshiri represented RAWHL in the meeting.

RAWHL's share purchase is estimated to have cost about 6m - at roughly 10,000 a share - upping its holding by around 2%.

Earlier this week, Arsenal's annual financial results to 31 May 2007 showed that income had soared 46% to 200.8m, up from 137.2m a year before.

The Arsenal board said that the strong results showed that there was no need for a wealthy individual backer, and insisted that it was not about to sell up.

Usmanov is a metals magnate with an estimated $5.5bn fortune.

He first bought into Arsenal in August when he paid former vice-chairman David Dein about 75m for his 14.65% holding.

That holding was increased earlier this month when he bought another two tranches of shares.

Last week Russian media reports said that Mr Usmanov now aims to up his share in Arsenal to at least 25% plus one share.

Should Mr Usmanov reach a 30% stake in the club then he would be obliged to make a takeover offer.

The club's financial results showed that its operating profits before player trading and exceptional items was 51.2m, up from 13.7m the previous year. Match income is now 3.1m a game, with total match income over the past year of 90.6m.

However, TV revenues were down on 2005/06, when the club reached the Champions League final, by 10m.

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