Spotify owner Daniel Ek says he is prepared for a “long journey” with his bid to buy Arsenal and will present “a very compelling offer” to try and persuade the Kroenke family to sell up.
Swedish billionaire Ek, 38, who has enlisted the support of club legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira, is expected to submit his first offer – in the region of £1.8 billion – in the next few days.
The Kroenkes, whose ownership came under renewed opposition following the club’s participation in the failed European Super League last week, insist they “will not entertain any offer”.
Ek expects the Kroenkes to reject his initial offer, but is willing to be patient in what is likely to be a long process.
Speaking to Sky’s sister station CNBC, Ek said: “I have secured the funds for it and I want to bring what I think is a very compelling offer to the owners and I hope they hear me out.”
Ek, who used Twitter to express interest in a deal last Friday evening, says he is “very serious” with his takeover bid and wants to “engage the fans again”.
“I just see a tremendous opportunity to set a real vision for the club to bring it back to its glory,” he added.
As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for @Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring.
— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) April 23, 2021
He has already intimated he would be open to having fan representation on the Arsenal board if he succeeds in buying the club, including the possibility of giving supporters a ‘golden share’, which would provide veto power over key decisions.
“I just focus on the club, I focus on the fans and I focus on trying to bring the club back to glory,” added Ek, who was speaking after Spotify announced their first quarterly results on Wednesday.
“I am first and foremost a fan, that is the most important thing for me. I want the club to do better. That is my primary interest.”
Ek, who co-founded Spotify in 2006 and is worth an estimated £3.2bn, does not consider his approach to buy the club as personal and was careful not to criticise the current owners during his television appearance.
Stan Kroenke, who owns Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), has been Arsenal’s owner since April 2011.
KSE also own NFL franchise Los Angeles Rams, NBA side Denver Nuggets, NHL outfit Colorado Avalanche and MLS side Colorado Rapids.
Arsenal director Josh Kroenke told a fans’ forum that his family would work harder to engage with fans more effectively in the future.
Mikel Arteta’s side – who are currently 10th, 12 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea – effectively need to win the Europa League if they are to play European football next season.
Fans unhappy with Kroenkes have somebody ‘they can rally behind’
Analysis from Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“The sceptics were saying this was a publicity stunt. The cynics were saying there is no way this is going to happen. Well, we have heard from the main man himself now. Daniel Ek has made it clear that he is very serious about trying to buy Arsenal, he has secured the funds. We know that Arsenal are valued at, at least, £2bn so it would suggest that he has managed to get that kind of finance together to try and push ahead with this proposed deal.
“He describes it as a very compelling, thoughtful offer and he is saying to the Kroenkes, ‘please listen to me, I am going to make this offer in the next few days, it is going to be put in front of you and then it is up to you to make up your mind. He already knows that the Kroenkes have said Arsenal is not for sale. That is not a surprise, of course no one is going to come out and say their Premier League club, which is worth billions of pounds, is for sale. But in business, as our colleagues at CNBC pointed out, everything has a price.
“If he can tempt the Kroenkes to sell, then he is ready to move in and buy Arsenal. Long-term, what I think is interesting, is that he himself said he is prepared for a long journey. He is expecting his offer to be rebuffed, he is expecting the Kroenke’s to say to him the club is not for sale. But now he is always going to be in the background. We know he is a real fan, he has been a fan for 30 years. We know now he is close to Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. He has got the legends on board, and these fans who are unhappy with the Kroenkes now have somebody they can rally behind.”
How could Ek fund Arsenal takeover bid?
Sky News business presenter Ian King tells Sky Sports News:
“I think he was pretty measured, to be honest with you. He did answer all the questions that they put to him on Arsenal. The thing I took away, is that he said look ‘I am not expecting this to be something that is sorted out overnight’. He is not going to try and rush his fences in that sense.
“There are a lot of questions that are raised from the interview that he has given to CNBC, one of which will be he says he has got the funding, where has he got it from and if successful, on what assets would the funding be secured? Would they, for example, be secured on his shareholding on Spotify?
“His wealth actually has been misreported in recent days. I mean the exact detail is that he owns 8 per cent of Spotify and currently Spotify shares have actually fallen by 10 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) this afternoon. The company is currently valued at around $50bn, so he owns 8 per cent of $50bn – around $4bn to be precise. Now we don’t know whether he has got liquid funds in addition to that.
“Don’t forget, while a lot of Arsenal fans will be keeping their fingers crossed and hoping to see the Kroenke’s out, bear in mind that you have seen other takeovers of football clubs – most notably when the Glazer family bought Manchester United – a lot of that was debt-funded, they didn’t put up a lot of their own equity when they bought that business and accordingly a lot of that was secured against the club’s assets and the debt servicing has been a huge burden, a huge drain on Manchester United’s coffers over the years.”