14 Jan Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote wants to buy Arsenal in 2021 after he finishes building one of the world’s largest oil refineries
Arsenal could have new owners next year if Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote fulfils his plan to purchase the North London club.
Dangote’s intentions to buy the Gunners date back to 2010 and Africa’s richest man is well-positioned to tempt current owner Stan Kroenke into selling having amassed a £7.7 billion ($10bn) fortune.
In 1981, Aliko Dangote borrowed $3000 from his uncle to import and sell agricultural commodities in Nigeria and was able to repay the loan within three months, which formed the basis of a company that today is one of the largest private-sector employers in Africa, the Dangote Group.
Dangote currently owns more than 80% of Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer and also owns stakes in salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies.
Speaking on The David Rubinstein Show via Bloomberg, Dangote reiterated his desire to takeover Arsenal: “It is a team that yes I would like to buy some day, but what I keep saying is we have $20billion worth of projects and that’s what I really want to concentrate on.
“I’m trying to finish building the company and then after we finish, maybe some time in 2021 we can. ‘I’m not buying Arsenal right now, I’m buying Arsenal when I finish all these projects, because I’m trying to take the company to the next level.”
Timeline of Aliko Dangote’s interest in buying Arsenal
In 2010, Arsenal’s fourth-largest investor at the time, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, was looking to sell her 16% share in the club. Dangote’s attempt to purchase Bracewell-Smith’s stake was unsuccessful and the shares were instead sold to current owner Stan Kroenke, who later went on to become the club’s majority stakeholder.
Five years later, Dangote once again stated his desire to buy Arsenal in an interview with Bloomberg: “I still hope, one day at the right price, that I’ll buy the team. I might buy it, not at a ridiculous price but a price that the owners won’t want to resist. I know my strategy.”
He also said that Wenger ‘needs to change his style a bit’ because the club needed a ‘new direction’. To some Arsenal fans, Dangote’s acknowledgement that the club needed a new direction three years prior to when Wenger eventually left in 2018, could represent the type of bold leadership they feel has been absent in recent times.
Two years after his comments about Wenger and buying Arsenal, Dangote again stated his interest: “If they get the right offer, I’m sure they would walk away. Someone will give them an offer that will make them seriously consider walking away. And when we finish the refinery, I think we will be in a position to do that.”
A year later in 2018, Dangote said: “We will go after Arsenal from 2020… even if somebody buys, we will still go after it.”
Dangote Refinery will be one of the largest oil refineries in the world once complete. However, it will not be finished until the end of 2020 due to problems ‘importing steel and other equipment’. Nigeria imports a majority of all of its fuel due to under-utilised refineries and price caps, a problem which Dangote aims to fix, having also received backing from the state to introduce a wide-scale source of cheaper fuel.
Dangote Refinery could potentially turn Africa from a net importer to major exporter of fuel worldwide. Industry insiders predict that fuel production won’t begin until 2022, according to Reuters, which could delay Dangote’s proposed takeover of Arsenal.