LONDON • Alisher Usmanov has said that he will not sell his stake in Arsenal to Stan Kroenke, despite having been offered £525 million (S$944 million) for it by the English football club's majority shareholder.
But Usmanov, who owns 30.04 per cent of Arsenal, said he would be open to selling to a group that had the fans' best interests at heart.
A consortium of long-standing Arsenal supporters with heavyweight financial backing had tried on three occasions over the past year to buy into the club - without success.
Uzbek-born Russian businessman Usmanov has no seat on the board and no say in the running of the club.
He has long been at loggerheads with American business entrepreneur Kroenke, whose controlling interest stands at 67.05 per cent, and his ideal scenario would be to buy out his rival.
Usmanov made him an £1 billion offer at the end of last season only to see it rejected, with Kroenke maintaining that he would never sell.
The American has described his interest in Arsenal as being "for generations".
30.04% Alisher Usmanov's stake in Arsenal, versus Stan Kroenke's controlling interest of 67.05 per cent.
He turned the tables on Usmanov with the bid for the Russian's stake, but the latter has been similarly unmoved.
"I would like to assure supporters that I am open to various future scenarios - a constructive partnership with the majority shareholder; the purchase of his stake either alone or in a consortium or, if a party appears who shares my and undoubtedly the majority of fans' vision for the club, I could consider the question of selling my stake," Usmanov said in a statement.
Were Kroenke to get Usmanov's stake, he would be able to force Arsenal into becoming a private company with very little transparency.
"I would like to be clear that I am not holding any talks with Mr Kroenke about a sale," Usmanov said. "My interest in Arsenal from the beginning was long-term and my intention has always been to buy additional shares should they become available.
"I have always been and will continue to be an ardent supporter of Arsenal and I see my 30 per cent stake as an important aspect in protecting the best interests of the fans in the club."