Usmanov edges nearer to Gunners takeover

Red and White Holdings Limited have increased their shareholding in Premier League outfit Arsenal to more than 25 percent. The company, owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and business associate Farhad Moshiri, is now within five percent of the minimum 30 percent stake needed for them to be able to launch a formal takeover bid. In a statement, Red and White said the increase was "in line with Red and White's previously stated intention to secure a significant shareholding in Arsenal and ensure that its position is protected. "We are pleased to have now secured over a quarter of the shares of Arsenal. We are committed long-term investors and supporters of the club and are comfortable that we are now in a protected position. "We also welcome the strengthening of the squad and look forward to a successful conclusion to the season."

Usmanov bought into the Gunners in August 2007, paying former vice-chairman David Dein around £75 million for his 14.65 percent stake.

However, Arsenal's board has a 'lockdown' agreement, meaning no director can sell their holding before April. After then, they are required to give each other first option on buying one another's stakes in the club.

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