Africa’s Richest Man is keen to buy Arsenal FC

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has explained he is keen to add London’s Arsenal football club to his portfolio.

“Nothing is impossible.” These three words are on a plaque that Aliko Dangote keeps on his office desk in Lagos, Nigeria, constantly reminding Africa’s richest man how to approach the world.

One investment he says he’s keen to add to his portfolio: Arsenal Football Club within four years.

“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.

“The first thing I would change is the coach,” Dangote said. “He has done a good job, but someone else should also try his luck.”

Arsene Wenger is Europe’s longest-serving manager. Since his appointment to the London-based club in 1996, he’s won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup trophies.

In May, he agreed to a new two-year deal, ending months of speculation over his future prompted by his team’s indifferent form last season. Arsenal failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s premier tournament, for the first time in 20 years.

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).

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

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.

Dangote, who was worth $12.3 billion as of mid-August, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is modest in his personal life but bold in business. Presiding over an empire that includes cement, freight, infrastructure, agriculture, and—soon—oil refining, Dangote, 60, possesses a towering ambition that matches the scale of his projects.

His Dangote Group has expanded rapidly, spreading into new territory across Africa as well as into new industries. Undaunted by the size and scope of his investments, Dangote, who once lost almost $6 billion in a single year, says he chooses to make daring moves that others would shy away from.

Plowing almost $5 billion into sugar, rice, and dairy production and now $11 billion into the construction of an oil refinery just outside Lagos, he says he’s looking to begin investing 60 percent of his business outside Africa starting in 2020.