Arsenal shareholder to sell stake

LONDON - One of Arsenal's biggest shareholders decided to sell her stake in the Premier League club on Monday raising the possibility of a takeover bid for the north London side.

A person familiar with the situation told Reuters that U.S. private equity firm Blackstone has been retained in the last few days by Nina Bracewell-Smith to find a buyer for her stake of almost 16 percent in the club.

Bracewell-Smith's decision to sell her holding could be of huge interest to the club's two big investors - Kroenke Sports Enterprises and Red and White Holdings - and possibly lead to a bid for control of the club.

American sports and real estate entrepreneur Kroenke currently owns 29.98 percent of the club, just short of the 30 percent threshold that would require hime to make a mandatory takeover offer.

Uzbek-born metals oilgarch Alisher Usmanov holds a 26.29 percent stake through his investment vehicle Red and White.

In January, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said he did not expect any takeover bid despite Kroenke's growing interest in the club. Blackstone Group declined to comment.

Arsenal's website said as of April 12 Bracewell-Smith owned 15.9 percent of Arsenal Holdings.

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