Arsenal: Why Africa's Richest Man Wants to Buy Premier League Club

Aliko Dangote
Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote speaks at the Africa-America Institute's 2016 awards gala in New York City on September 20. Dangote has reaffirmed his desire to buy English football club Arsenal. Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Africa-America Institute

You might think that Africa's richest man would be satisfied with his investments.

But Nigerian cement tycoon Aliko Dangote, who is worth almost $13 billion (£10bn) according to Forbes, has one ambition that remains unfulfilled—to buy English Premier League club Arsenal.

Dangote, 59, and an ardent Arsenal fan, has expressed a desire to purchase the London-based football club multiple times before. The businessman discussed buying a 15.9 percent stake in Arsenal in 2010 before talks with the owners fell through, and said again in 2015 that he hoped to purchase the club "one day at the right price."

But Wednesday, Dangote put a timeframe of within three to four years for his planned attempt to buy Arsenal. The Nigerian said there was "no doubt" that he would purchase the club and that it was "not a problem" of money, but rather that he wanted to complete his current business ventures before embarking on such a substantial investment, in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York.

Dangote also indicated that he would hope to turn Arsenal's fortunes around, should he become the club's owner. While it has been one of the most successful sides in the modern English football era, Arsenal last won the English Premier League in 2004 and has never won the UEFA Champion's League, Europe's top competition.

"It's not about buying Arsenal and just continuing with business as usual," said Dangote. "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."

American sports mogul Stan Kroenke, worth an estimated $7.4 billion, is currently the majority shareholder in Arsenal Holdings Plc—the club's parent company—with a 67 percent stake. Uzbekistan-born metal and mining magnate Alisher Usmanov owns a 30.05 percent stake. Neither has publicly commented on Dangote's stated intention to buy Arsenal.

Dangote is currently investing in a $12 billion oil facility—which would be Nigeria's first private crude oil refinery—that is due to be completed by 2019, and has also said he plans to build new cement plants in at least eight countries by 2018.

The businessman, who was born in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, has also promised to help Nigeria recover from the Boko Haram insurgency, which has ravaged the country's northeast. Dangote pledged in May to donate $10 billion to help families affected by the Islamist group, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million people since taking up arms in 2009.