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AST Challenges Red and White Over Dividend Policy

Posted Thursday 4th October 2007

By Liz Byrnes, PA Sport
4 October 2007

Arsenal supporters' group has called on the club's shareholders to unite after Alisher Usmanov spelled out his long-term ambition to obtain a controlling interest in the Gunners.

The Russian, via his investment company Red and White Holdings chaired by former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, has already spent some 120million buying up 23% of the club's stock.
This has raised the spectre of a hostile takeover of the north London club, something the Uzbek-born metals magnate, worth an estimated 2.7billion, has denied. However, Usmanov added that: "We have no intention of bidding for the club but this is business life and things can change. "Something we may not be able to do today but we can maybe do tomorrow."

Arsenal's directors have continued to insist they will resist a takeover but if Usmanov passes the 25% mark that will give him a blocking vote which will allow him to veto certain decisions.

The club's director shareholders Danny Fiszman, who has 24.11%, chairman Peter Hill-Wood, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Richard Carr have agreed to hold on to their stakes until at least April.
Now Arsenal Supporters' Trust have called on the club to resist Usmanov and described as "appalling" the businessman's desire to pay out a dividend to shareholders.

A spokesman told PA Sport:

"I'm disappointed at the aggressive briefing Red and White are aiming at the Arsenal board. The Arsenal Supporters' Trust have called on all shareholders to work with and not against the board.
"The briefings from Red and White that they are unhappy with the role of the current board and that they would like to take a dividend are appalling.
"Our board has delivered a fantastic stadium and signed up Arsene Wenger. They deserve congratulating not criticizing.
"It is completely wrong for Red and White to seek to extract profit. No dividends have been paid at Arsenal for more than 30 years. All extra monies should be reinvested in the club."

The spokesman claimed the trust were confident the club was in safe hands after recently being given assurances by Fiszman over his long-term future at the Emirates.

Should Red and White or anybody else eventually look to launch a takeover, Fiszman's 24.1% stake is seen as the key.
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AST Challenges Red and White Over Dividend Policy