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Profile: Alisher Usmanov
Alisher Usmanov was a participant or observer in the following events:
Alisher Usmanov, a Uzbek-Russian businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007), becomes a leading shareholder in Arsenal. Together with his associate Farhad Moshiri, a London-based Iranian, Usmanov purchases a 14.5 percent interest in the football club through the company Red & White Holdings for £75m. The stake is purchased from David Dein, who left the club’s board in April when he fell out with other directors over the lack of foreign investment in Arsenal (see April 2007). Dein was previously close to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now reported to approve of the transaction. The deal makes Red & White Holdings the third largest shareholder in Arsenal, behind Danny Fiszman (24.11 percent) and Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9 percent). The US businessman Stan Kroenke holds 12.9 percent; nobody else has more than 5 percent. [BBC, 8/31/2007]
Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray accuses new Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007) of a string of crimes in a piece posted to his blog. [Craig Murray, 9/2/2007] Murray learned of Uzbek affairs during his time as ambassador in 2002-2004, but was removed from his position under a cloud after he complained too loudly about the use of torture in the “war on terror.” [Grey, 2007, pp. 152-169] In a no-holds-barred post entitled “Alisher Usmanov, Potential Arsenal Chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker, and Accused Rapist,” Murray sets out Usmanov’s many alleged sins, including his activities as an underworld boss, influence peddling with Uzbekistan’s ruling clan, bribery, and a “particularly atrocious rape.” [Craig Murray, 9/2/2007]
Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek-Russian businessman who has just purchased an interest in the London football club Arsenal (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), uses the law firm Schillings to shut down discussion of his controversial past on the Internet. Shortly after Usmanov became an Arsenal shareholder, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray published a blog post saying that Usmanov had committed numerous crimes (see September 2, 2007). Schillings now contacts several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs to make them remove postings referencing Murray’s allegations. The law firm tells them that repeating the allegations is “false, indefensible, and grossly defamatory.” Most sites comply. Although Schillings forces Murray’s webhost to remove the post, it does not contact Murray himself. [Guardian, 9/13/2007]
Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov temporarily shuts down the website of Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate for major of London, in a dispute between Usmanov and former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray. Usmanov has numerous other websites shut down as well. Following the purchase of an interest in Arsenal by Usmanov, an Uzbek-Russian businessman (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), Murray made numerous allegations against him (see September 2, 2007), and Usmanov used the law firm Schillings in an attempt to shut down discussion of them on the Internet (see Shortly After September 2, 2007). Schillings now pressures Murray’s webhost, Fasthosts Internet, to act against Murray, and it responds by cutting off services to Murray and numerous other bloggers who simply share some technical services with him, even though they had not written about Usmanov or been the subject of a complaint by him. Johnson calls the action “a serious erosion of free speech,” adding: “This is London, not Uzbekistan.… It is unbelievable that a website can be wiped out on the say-so of some tycoon. We live in a world where Internet communication is increasingly vital, and this is a serious erosion of free speech.” Bob Piper, another affected blogger and local Labour Party politician in Birmingham, calls the situation “outrageous.” [Guardian, 9/20/2007]
Alisher Usmanov, a Uzbek-Russian businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007) who now owns a 24 percent stake in Arsenal (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), says he only plans to increase his interest by a small amount. According to Usmanov, the investment vehicle Red & White Holdings, of which he is a co-owner, wants a blocking stake in the football club, which would be 25 percent plus one share. This would give it a veto on major club issues. [Reuters, 2/27/2008]
Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007), increases his interest in Arsenal, an English Premier League football club in North London. Red & White Holdings, of which Usmanov is a co-owner, raises its shareholding to 25 percent, which gives it a veto over major decisions. The company, run by former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein, first bought an interest in Arsenal in 2007 (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007). Red & White Holdings is now the largest shareholder in Arsenal, followed by Danny Fiszman (24.11 percent), Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9 percent), and Stan Kroenke (12.4 percent). Shares in Arsenal are currently changing hands for around £7,500, down from their peak of around £10,500 a year and a half ago. If Usmanov’s interest reaches 30 percent, he will be mandated to launch a takeover bid under Stock Exchange rules. [Times (London), 2/17/2009]
Arsenal’s board of directors turns down a proposal that the football club raise capital by means of a rights issue. The suggestion was put forward by Red & White Holdings, an investment vehicle co-owned by the controversial Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov (see September 2, 2007). Under the plan, all shareholders would be invited to subscribe new shares, but if one or more did not exercise this right, the additional shares would be offered to the other shareholders. Red & White Holdings says that the extra money would be used to repay some of the club’s debt and to finance additional signings of established players. However, club officials suspect this is a ploy to allow Usmanov to increase his stake. In addition, they say the debt is manageable and that they prefer to sign young players, who are cheaper. [Guardian, 7/8/2009]
The controversial Russian-Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov (see September 2, 2007) increases his stake in English football club Arsenal. The shareholding is held by the investment vehicle Red & White Holdings, of which Usmanov is co-owner, and is now just over 26 percent. This makes Usmanov’s company the second largest shareholder in Arsenal, behind US businessman Stan Kroenke, who now has 29.9 percent. [BBC, 12/11/2009]
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