This afternoon the news is full of Arsenal takeover speculation with our fourth largest shareholder, Nina Bracewell-Smith, having reportedly hired a firm to sell her shares.
The first thought that came to my mind as I went through this news was – What’s wrong with this lady!?
In the past she’s said she had no intention of selling her shares. But suddenly when the title race is hotting up and the club should be fully focused on football here we have another bit of side business taking the headlines.
In theory, this should be a business issue and completely separate from the football side of the club. In practice, we all know that cannot be the case. I’m certain there will be some questions about this put to Arsene and even to the players if the hacks can get to them. Wenger can probably handle any mess the media creates and I’m hoping the players and the staff will remain insulated from the petty games shareholders are playing.
The timing is what irks me most. Bracewell-Smith has had her problems with the board but she’s maintained her dignity so far. Why then the sudden urge to sell her shares at this point? If she waited so long surely she can hold on to them for a month or so more.
In any case I doubt she will be selling her complete share to either of the takeover protagonists. If Kroenke and Usmanov had enough money to launch the takeover they would have acquired the 30% stake and made an offer. Considering the fact that we are talking in terms of hundreds of millions of pounds, most likely in excess of half a billion, I will be really surprised if anyone can buy her complete stake.
The only positive I can think of is that Kroenke is close to selling his stake in St. Louis Rams and could be in the middle of preparing a takeover bid. In that case you could understand that Bracewell-Smith wants professionals to handle her case for her. Although, if that were the case, I’d really wonder why the present board and Kroenke are bringing this up at this time. Knowing that our board has generally been extremely prudent I can’t see them getting into such a situation with just a few big weeks left in the season.
Do the board want to finish this process quickly so that we have a new owner before the next transfer window? That could certainly be one way of justifying the timing. If that’s the case then I guess Arsene must be in the loop and will know exactly what he is going to get in the summer.
The other problem here is the assumption that if Kroenke can raise enough cash to make a bid, Usmanov will surrender without a fight. Who is to say he can’t buy another 3-4% and launch a bid of his own!? Is this really the time when we want to test that?
Why can’t all of them just go about it in the Arsenal way, quietly and behind closed doors. To an extent I must give credit to the American, he hasn’t really made any controversial moves, at least in public.
I’m really disappointed with the timing of this move from Nina Bracewell-Smith. Here’s hoping it doesn’t turn into anything worse.