London: English Premier League soccer club Arsenal said on Monday it had agreed to be taken over by American billionaire Stan Kroenke in a deal which would value the club at 731 million pounds (USD 1.2 billion).
Kroenke, who already owns close to 30 percent of the North London club, said he had offered Arsenal shareholders 11,750 pounds per share and had already secured the backing of 16.1 percent shareholder Danny Fiszman and 15.9 percent shareholder Nina Bracewell-Smith.
Kroenke, who owns several major sports teams in the United States, now controls 63 percent of the club, which currently lies second in the league behind rivals Manchester United.
"Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger. We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success," Kroenke said in a statement.
Arsenal have gone six years without a trophy since their FA Cup success in 2005 and fans have been frustrated as their spending on players lagged behind rivals such as Chelsea and Manchester City.
Manager Wenger welcomed the takeover.
"I have worked with Stan Kroenke at board meetings over the past couple of years and I believe he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart. He understands the club`s heritage and traditions and our ambition to run the club in a way which protects our long term future," he said.
Under Takeover Panel rules, Kroenke is now compelled to make an offer for the remaining shares.
Russian steel magnate Alisher Usmanov is Arsenal`s other major shareholder, holding a 27 percent stake through his Red and White vehicle.
Chairman Peter Hill-Wood will remain in his position.