Usmanov Increases Arsenal Stake to 24%

LONDON -- Billionaire Alisher Usmanov has increased the amount of shares he owns in Arsenal Football Club by around 1 percent to more than 24 percent, the company representing him said Friday.

Red and White Holdings, the investment vehicle for the businessman that has former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein as its head, said it now holds over 24 percent in Arsenal Holdings, having held 23 percent since last September.

Red and White would be required to launch a takeover for the club under London Stock Exchange rules once it has 30 percent. Red and White, jointly owned by Uzbek-born Usmanov and London-based investor Farhad Moshiri, has been gradually increasing its stake but has received a frosty reception from Arsenal's board, who have said they do not need a billionaire backer.

In October, the board extended an agreement that prevents board members from selling shares to outside investors until April 2009.