Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Boardroom Machinations

"No, it’s business as usual. It’s a transaction between two Board members, both of whom believe in the philosophy of the Club, the self-sustaining philosophy on a day-to-day level. It has absolutely no impact at all."

- Ivan Gazidis, with a nose about the size of Pinocchio's

The big news today is that Danny Fiszman sold 5,000 shares to Stan Kroenke for £42.5 million. This makes Kroenke the second largest Arsenal shareholder with 20.5%, and reduces Fiszman's stake to 16.1%. After the sale, Fiszman did an interview with Arsenal.com and stated:

"I have no current intention to sell any more of my shares in the Club. This sale to Stan was a one-off sale. I certainly intend to continue as a long-term substantial shareholder."

It's interesting because of a number of points:

1. Ivan Gazidis is surprisingly bad at lying. It augers poorly for his effectiveness in the looming transfer window. He's going to have to compete with snakes-in-the-grass like Barcelona and Real Madrid, and unless he can lie effectively, our chances of buying someone in the Valencia firesale are shot.

2. Danny Fiszman didn't wait for the Highbury Square development to go to completion before selling his shares. It's been speculated that the reason the lockdown agreement expired in mid 2009 was so board members could sell at the inflated share price that the Highbury Square should have provided. For Fiszman to sell his shares now, rather than a few months down the track, means that the Highbury Square development will probably not deliver a profit.

3. The board lockdown agreement meant that the board members had to offer each other their shares, before allowing anyone else to buy. The other members also have to approve purchases. So Kroenke's purchase was done with the tacit approval of the board, and gives Kroenke a more promenient role at the club. It also confirms him as the board's preferred potential owner, if and when the rest decide to sell their shares.

4. Alongside the appointment of Gazidis as CEO, it gives Arsenal pretty extensive knowledge of the American sports market in general, and the MLS in particular. Gazidis was the CEO of the MLS before his appointment with the Arsenal, and Kroenke owns the Colorado Rapids. So I expect something major in terms of commercial expansion happening in the next few years.

5. The spotlight now falls on Nina Bracewell-Smith, who has a 15% stake and was ousted from the board last year. With Usmanov on 25% and Kroenke on 20%, whoever she'll sell to will end up with enough shares to mount a full takeover. Which is a problem because the other side will probably refuse to sell. Which would lead to activation of the "death-match" clause in the Arsenal constitution. With this clause, Usmanov and Kroenke will step into a cage and the cage is then locked. Nina Bracewell-Smith will then breaks a pool cue in half and throws the two halves into the cage. And whoever comes out is the new owner of Arsenal FC.

6. It's a great distraction from the other big story of the day, that van Persie's injured himself while on international duty. Again. It's a hamstring strain, so knowing the Arsenal physio team, he'll be out for 3 months at least. Damn van Persie's hamstrings. Gosh darn, golly gosh darn. Can't he stay uninjured for ONE season at least?


weg said...

Hey, it's me talking to me. How am I? Pretty darn good, I'd say. I wonder if this comment will get published? Someone's saying it doesn't.

Connolly's agent said...

Looks pretty good, Weg. But then again, you're a wonderfully clever fella.

Anonymous said...

Testing 1 2 3...

Anonymous said...

Lol, youre full of yourself huh weg?
The thing is working again but i forgot what i wanted to say. I think it was a comment about Usmanov being a cunt and how comfy id be with a Kroenke take over... and hoping Lady Nina sells her shares to the Yank.

p.s. I read your blog every day if you must know. It is the best unread blog like you said.

Weg said...

Thanks Patt. Praise is always good. Even if it's from yourself, under a pseudonym to another pseudonym, it still sounds good. Strange, that.