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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Arsenal move to prevent takeover
Alisher Usmanov
Usmanov has said he is keen to up his 23% shareholding
Arsenal's directors have taken steps to prevent any attempt to take over the club in the immediate future.

They have extended a "lock-down" agreement on the sale of shares.

It means directors can only sell to "permitted persons" before April 2009 and must give fellow board members first option until October 2012.

The move follows Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov's recent declaration of an interest in adding to his 23% shareholding in the club.

Earlier this month, he said he would continue to buy shares if other major shareholders wanted to sell and the price was right.

But chairman Peter Hill-Wood insisted: "Members of the board are committed long-term shareholders, and to strengthen the current position they have entered into a new agreement which replaces the existing lock-down agreement.

"Under the new agreement, the board members have agreed not to dispose of any of their interests in the club before April 18, 2009, other than to certain permitted persons, such as close family.


"After that date, for the remainder of the term of the agreement, they can only sell their shares to another person if the other parties to the agreement do not wish to buy them.

"The agreement is for five years although it can be terminated early by the parties on its third anniversary [18 October 2010]."

The original "lock-down" came after former vice-chairman David Dein left because of "irreconcilable differences".

Dein is believed to have backed American businessman Stan Kroenke taking control of the club.

Kroenke has since acquired a 12.2% stake in Arsenal, while Dein has sold his 14.5% share to Usmanov, whose Red and White Holdings Limited company has built up their holding to 23%.

Hill-Wood added in his AGM statement: "There has been much recent media coverage surrounding the share ownership of the group, following the arrival of two new major shareholders in the past year.

"I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise to all shareholders that the Arsenal board is committed to the principle of developing the long-term stability of the club through maintaining a business that pays its own way."

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose believes that once Usmanov gains a 25% share of Arsenal, the current board would not be able to change the way the club is run without his say-so.

Usmanov, 54, has a reputed personal wealth of 2.7 billion. He owns the massive industrial conglomerate Metalloinvest.

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