Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, plans to buy London-based Arsenal soccer team within four years.
Dangote, a Nigerian worth $10.8 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.
“There’s no doubt” he’ll buy Arsenal and “it’s not a problem” of money, Dangote said in an interview with Bloomberg Television 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 $4.5 billion this year, the third 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 Plc, whose stock is down 19 percent in the past two years. An acquisition would make him the first sub-Saharan 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.”
While Arsenal has won 13 top flight league titles in England, making it one of the country’s most successful sides, it’s last was in 2004.
Arsenal Holdings Plc, the owner, trades on the ICAP Securities & Derivatives Exchange, or ISDX, and has a market capitalization of 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion).
Most English Premier League matches are broadcast live in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, by Supersport, a satellite television channel owned by South Africa’s Naspers Ltd.