Kroenke tip-toes towards takeover

LONDON - U.S. sports and real estate entrepreneur Stan Kroenke has bought another 25 shares in Arsenal, taking him close to the threshold for a mandatory takeover offer.

The Premier League club said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Monday that Kroenke bought the shares for 8,500 pounds each on December 17, giving him control of 18,649 ordinary shares.

That gives him 29.97 percent of the 62,219 shares in the club, Reuters calculations show.

Under UK takeover rules, a shareholder buying more than 30 percent of stock in a company is obliged to make a mandatory takeover offer for all the remaining shares at the highest price paid in the previous 12 months.

Some bankers have said Kroenke may be unwilling to breach the 30 percent barrier until May 2010 because he announced this May he had paid 10,500 pounds each for a block of shares, well above the existing market.

However shares in Arsenal are owned by a small group of investors who might be unlikely to accept an offer for their shares, even at a high price. So even a breach of 30 percent might not alter significantly the ownership of the club.