Stan Kroenke will not be denied.
As his Colorado Rapids muddle along, Stan Kroenke upped his stakes yet again before the weekend and now controls 28.3% of the Arsenal’s shares which puts him in pole position for the 30% trigger to offer a buyout of the rest of the remaining shares. Kroenke bought up the Carr family shares for £8,500 and £10,500 per share, well above the £6,500 value for a total investment of £46m.
The era of cost cutting has seen Roman Abramovich decreasing his liability; Hicks and Gillett looking for outside investment to improve chances of refinancing in the summer, and the Glazers tightening their belt by increasing ticket prices. In the most egregious example, Southampton’s fate teeters in the balance.
It would appear Stan Kroenke lives in an alternate world. He has moved from a 12% stake and more than doubled his shareholding in a years time when most club investors in this period have looked to lowering their risk. In a measure of where he has come, the Arsenal Supporters Trust welcomed this move as one that ensures the club’s long term stability. Two years ago, David Dein’s support of a Kroenke takeover bid engendered such hostility with the board and club supporters, he was forced to resign.
The almost invisible way this has been done mirrors Kroenke’s business acquisitions. He has made billions through real estate development. His marriage to the daughter of Bud Walton, the co-founder of Walmart, the ubiquitous icon of suburban life, ensured he was taught by the best in the business. After that learning curve, Kroenke opened his own company, Thf Realty (the acronym stands for To have fun) which catapulted in short time to become one of the top retail developers. The couple’s joint net worth is $5.6 billion (£3.7b) , with Kroenke ranked 105 on the Forbes rich list and getting wealthier every year.
His company Thf realty has defied the reeling economy by turning in a profit. With most real estate companies going slow, the company’s low cost mantra has seen high occupancy rates in their retail and office holdings, giving them an advantage over others in this economic downturn.
Along the way he has become the most powerful name in sports business with his acquisition of the St Louis Rams, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, and the Colorado Rapids. His diversification into every facet of sports includes owning clubs, arenas, manufacture and retail of sporting goods, and media and entertainment outlets. He owns Denver’s Pepsi Center and Dicks Sporting Goods, the sports retailers. Yet, outside his peer group, the name Stan Kroenke barely registers a ripple. He is notoriously publicity shy and even his friends acknowledge his bland personality. But you have to read between the lines to get a sense or in this case the bouquet of the man.
His inside man in Arsenal is chief executive, Ivan Gazidis whose previous tenure as MLS deputy commissioner brought him close to Kroenke. There is every indication that Kroenke and Danny Fiszman are working together to keep Alisher Usmanov away from achieving majority status. Gazidis has been entrusted with winning over estranged Nina Bracewell Smith and ensuring that her 15.9% stake is protected from Usmanov.
Once that happens, Arsenal will be in the hands of the man who is called Silent Stan in business circles.
Stan Kroenke will not be denied.