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Dangote may buy Arsenal FC soon after 2010 failed bid

Arsenal fan and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, may be the next owner of Arsenal football club soon. He dropped the hint in a Bloomberg interview. The Nigerian commodities colossus has a net worth estimate of $15.7 billion (£10.38 billion). He’s got a buying price in mind for Arsenal.

He told Bloomberg, “I still hope, one day at the right price, that I’ll buy the team,” Dangote, 58, said in an interview as he traveled on a plane owned by one of his companies between the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the Nigerian commercial hub of Lagos on May 1. “I might buy it, not at a ridiculous price but a price that the owners won’t want to resist. I know my strategy.”

Dangote has reportedly mounted an attempt to buy the club previously. In 2010, it was widely rumoured that he had offered to buy Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s 15.9% stake in the club. Back then, Forbes suggested he had a fortune of around $3.3 billion (£2.18 billion), far less than he does now. He could now mount a much larger bid if he wanted.

He said he has too many other investments to keep an eye on for the moment, precluding an immediate takeover. He’s not alone in his fondness for the north London club. Arsenal is one of England’s most successful clubs, having won 13 top flight league titles in the country, the most after Manchester United and Liverpool. Arsenal Holdings Plc., the owner, trades on the ICAP Securities & Derivatives Exchange, or ISDX, and is valued at 988 million pounds ($1.49 billion).

A successful bid would make Dangote the first African owner of a club in a league where billionaires including Russia’s Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea, and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, who controls Manchester City, have acquired teams.

Stan Kroenke, worth $5.6 billion and owner of the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams, holds 67 percent of Arsenal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 30 percent is owned by Red & White Sec Ltd., controlled by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, a former Uzbekistan youth fencing champion who is now Russia’s third-richest man, and Farhad Moshiri.

There are some similarities between Arsenal and the Nigerian economy: Both are powerful forces that regularly promise great things, but seem to constantly fall short. Dangote has successfully navigated one, could he manage the other?

Dangote has interests in sugar and flour and controls Dangote Cement Plc, Nigeria’s biggest publicly traded company. He is investing $11 billion in a 650,000 barrel-a-day oil refinery near Lagos and as much as $2.5 billion in gas pipelines running to the city from Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger River delta region.
His wealth has fallen by $2.7 billion this year, the second-most globally, according to the Billionaires Index.

BLOOMBERG | BUSINESS INSIDER

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