Aliko Dangote determined to buy Arsenal

London - Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, plans to buy London-based Arsenal soccer team within four years.

Dangote, a Nigerian worth $10.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, announced his intention to buy the club last year. He said he needs to wait for his business prospects to improve and his investments in gas pipelines and an oil refinery to play out before making the acquisition.

Aliko Dangote. File picture: Akintunde Akinleye. Credit: REUTERS

“There’s no doubt” he’ll buy Arsenal and “it’s not a problem” of money, Dangote said in an interview with Bloomberg in New York on Wednesday. “Maybe three to four years. The issue is that we have more challenging headwinds. I need to get those out the way first and start having tailwinds. Then I’ll focus on this.”

Dangote, an Arsenal fan, has lost $4.4 billion this year, the fourth most of anyone globally, due mainly to the depreciation of Nigeria’s currency, the billionaires index shows. The bulk of his wealth is tied up in Lagos-based Dangote Cement. An acquisition of the team would make him the first African owner of a team in England’s Premier League.

“It’s not about buying Arsenal and just continuing with business as usual,” he said. “It’s about buying Arsenal and turning it around. I’ve run a very successful business and I think I can also run a very successful team. Right now, with what we’re facing, over $20 billion of projects, I cannot do both.”

Arsenal Holdings, the team’s owner, trades on the ICAP Securities & Derivatives Exchange, or ISDX, and has a market capitalisation of 1 billion pounds.

Stan Kroenke, worth $7 billion and owner of the National Basket Association’s Denver Nuggets, holds 67 percent of Arsenal Holdings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.