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Alisher Usmanov increases stake in Arsenal

Alisher Usmanov Russian billionaire has increased his stake in Arsenal to 23 percent.

Red and White Holdings Ltd., Usmanov's investment company, said Friday that it had increased its share ownership by 2 percent. British media reports said Usmanov paid 6 million pounds (US$12.2 million; EUR8.6 million) for its stake.

Usmanov is Arsenal's second-largest shareholder behind Danny Fiszman, who holds a 24 percent stake. Usmanov said last week in Russia that he wanted to gain a blocking stake in the club of 25 percent plus one share.

Should he reach a 30 percent stake he would be obliged to make a takeover offer.

On Aug. 30, Usmanov established Red and White by paying former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein about 75 million pounds (US$152.1 million; EUR107.3 million) for his 14.65 percent holding in the club.

Red and White then appointed Dein as its chairman and said it had "committed funds" to enable it to increase its stake in Arsenal. The company is co-owned by Usmanov and long-time business associate Farhad Moshiri, a London-based investor.

Usmanov's latest move comes four days after Arsenal unveiled record profits after its first season at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman said then that the club's healthy finances proved it did not need foreign investment.

The Arsenal board, led by longtime chairman Peter Hill-Wood, is against a foreign takeover. The board members have signed an undertaking to keep hold of their shares at least until April.

Dein was ousted from the Arsenal board in April after he supported the possibility of a takeover by American businessman Stan Kroenke, who owns 11.26 percent of Arsenal.

Usmanov is involved in mining, telecoms and natural gas in Russia and was ranked 278th in Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people in 2006.

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