Football: Nigerian billionaire says acquiring Arsenal within four years is in the pipeline

Aliko Dangote, president and chief executive officer of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, speaks during the US Africa Business Forum in New York on Sept 21, 2016.
Aliko Dangote, president and chief executive officer of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, speaks during the US Africa Business Forum in New York on Sept 21, 2016.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Bloomberg - Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man, plans to buy Arsenal within four years.

Dangote, a Nigerian worth US$10.9 billion (S$14.7 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, announced his intention to buy the club last year. He said he needs to wait for his business prospects to improve and his investments in gas pipelines and an oil refinery to play out before making the acquisition.

"There's no doubt" he'll buy Arsenal and "it's not a problem" of money, Dangote said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York on Wednesday.

"(The time frame is) maybe three to four years. The issue is that we have more challenging headwinds. I need to get those out the way first and start having tailwinds. Then I'll focus on this."

Dangote, an Arsenal fan, has lost US$4.4 billion this year, due mainly to the depreciation of Nigeria's currency, the billionaires index shows. The bulk of his wealth is tied up in Lagos-based Dangote Cement Plc, whose stock is down 4.7 per cent this year.

An acquisition of the team would make him the first African owner of a team in England's Premier League.

"It's not about buying Arsenal and just continuing with business as usual," he said. "It's about buying Arsenal and turning it around. 

"I've run a very successful business and I think I can also run a very successful team. Right now, with what we're facing, over US$20 billion of projects, I cannot do both."

While Arsenal has won 13 top-flight league titles in England, making it one of the country's most successful sides, its last was in 2004.

Arsenal Holdings Plc, the owner, trades on the ICAP Securities & Derivatives Exchange, or ISDX, and has a market capitalization of 1 billion pounds (S$1.7 billion).

Stan Kroenke, worth US$7 billion and owner of the National Basket Association's Denver Nuggets, holds 67 per cent of Arsenal Holdings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.