18June 2015, Lagos – Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, who has expressed an interest in buying Arsenal, has told the BBC that he would be in a better position to buy the team as soon as the refinery he is building in Ondo State is completed and begins production.
The businessman also said that Gunners needs new ownership and direction if they are to progress in the Premier League.
Dangote, 58, is Africa’s richest man according to Forbes, and is worth a reported $15.7bn which puts him 67th on the list of the world’s richest people.
The businessman was linked with an approach to buy a stake in the club in 2010, before he pulled out, but now believes that the building of an oil refinery in Nigeria will give him the funds to return with a new offer.
Dangote is worth more than the two majority owners Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov.
“When we get this refinery on track, I will have enough time and enough resources to pay what they are asking for,” he told BBC Hausa.
“There were a couple of us who were rushing to buy (in 2011), and we thought with the prices then, the people who were interested in selling were trying to go for a kill,” Dangote added.
“We backtracked, because we were very busy doing other things, especially our industrialisation.”
The Gunners have a history of selling star players like Robin van Persie (£25m to Man Utd in 2012) and Cesc Fabregas (to Barcelona in 2011 for £35m), while they also moved on Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri to title rivals Man City for over £50m in recent years.
“They are doing well, but they need another strategic direction,” Dangote said. “They need more direction than the current situation, where they just develop players and sell them.”
Kroenke is the Gunners’ majority shareholder with 66.64 percent of the club’s parent company Arsenal Holdings plc, while Russian — Uzbek Usmanov owns 29.11 percent. The remainder of the 62,217 shares are held by minority shareholders.
Meanwhile, former Arsenal forward, Thierry Henry, hopes the club’s back-to-back FA Cup success will kick start a new era of glory for the club.
The legendary striker is impressed with the depth of the Gunners’ squad and believes they have made significant progress over the past few seasons adding that if they are to compete for the very biggest prizes they must become more consistent.
“It’s a difficult task to win the FA Cup back to back, but they have done that,” Henry told Arsenal Player at the kit launch of the 2015/16 home shirt.
“It was a way more difficult game against Hull than Aston Villa. So the progress is there, now what we are waiting for is the consistency in the league because that is very important. That is where you can judge a team, in the league.
“Having said that, our generation started by winning the cup and went on to win a double and stayed unbeaten – that is all I can hope for this group to do.”