After Usmanov’s charm offensive (where he declared himself an Arsenal and Arsene Wenger fan), it was only a matter of time before the Arsenal board responded with a move of their own. The directors have extended their lock-down agreement on share sales, which now stands as follows (in the words of Peter Hill-Wood):
“Members of the board are committed long-term shareholders, and to strengthen the current position they have entered into a new agreement which replaces the existing lock-down agreement.
Under the new agreement, the board members have agreed not to dispose of any of their interests in the club before April 18, 2009, other than to certain permitted persons, such as close family.
After that date, for the remainder of the term of the agreement, they can only sell their shares to another person if the other parties to the agreement do not wish to buy them.
The agreement is for five years although it can be terminated early by the parties on its third anniversary [18 October 2010].”
It’s a good move, but a defensive one for Arsenal. I don’t see how the lock-down will stop Usmanov from acquiring the rest of the shares that the directors don’t control, which he will eventually end up doing if he throws enough money at Arsenal shareholders (Kroenke could still be tempted to make a good profit on his 12% state in Arsenal). Unlike last time (against Kroenke), PHW and Arsenal have been calmer and less aggressive – and while the restraint is admirable, the defensive moves are questionable.
Time to go on the offensive? At the very least the directors could make a move to increase their shares to beyond 50% (currently at 45.45%).