Granted, it probably doesn't mean much of anything in Aston Villa's search for an owner. But since we last wrote about the former Carnival CEO a week ago, he's sold off just under £50 million more from his shares in the company. I started digging after getting the following tweet, so thanks to Southern Villan for that.
@crashcarson15 heard anything more on the Arison spec Alex? I did some digging and then saw your article today. More shares sold on 5/6 Jun
— Southern Villan (@SouthernVillan) June 11, 2014
He mentioned in the tweet that Arison had sold more shares on June 5 and 6—nearly a million shares for upwards of $38 million—but after some further digging, it appears that Arison's made another sale of Carnival shares, offloading $40 million more on June 9 and 10. We've heard many times before about a mystery American buyer and it seems like Arison's raising the funds to do, well, something...
Granted, that something could just be an attempt to diversify his funds or to do some estate planning as was announced in Arison's February statement that he'd sell 10 million of his Carnival shares, a figure that he's nearly reached. A look through Micky Arison's transactions as documented by the SEC shows that he had raised nearly £150 million in funds by the end of March which could seem to support the idea that a joint deal was on the table but fell through.
But then Arison didn't do anything for nearly two months, sitting on the funds from his sale of around 6 million shares of Carnival stock. On May 23 though, he resumed sale of the Carnival stock and since has liquidised another £75 million in shares, bringing his net total to nearly £225 million from 9.37 million of his shares in the company. If his initial statement is anything to go by, he's just about done selling shares in Carnival stock, so what could this mean for Villa?
If Arison sells those additional 630,000 shares, he'd be putting himself at having liquidised £235 million to do, well, something with. We've heard about how Randy Lerner's potentially dropped his asking price for Villa to £150 million and if that's the case, well, Arison could have renewed potential interest in the club.
Let's work with a hypothetical situation that's been suggested. Arison and some other rich American dude were going to buy Villa together for £200 million. They were each going to pay £100 million of the fee for the club and then pump in some of their money for signings. Cool. Then the other guy walked and Arison didn't want to do it all on his own. But now that Lerner's dropped his price, that's approximately six more Christian Bentekes he could buy with his own money! And maybe, just maybe, Arison thinks £85 million of investment in the club would be enough to achieve his goals.
But on a realistic note, I'm not sure if this is really likely. We haven't heard much from the press sans for the vague report recently on Arison and the vibe that I've gotten from the way things are going is that there's nothing really going on when it comes to the ownership front. It's a nice thing to think about—Arison's Miami Heat franchise is ridiculously successful—but I still don't see it happening. Arison is liquidising nearly $400 million of his cash to do something... unfortunately, I just don't see that thing being Villa.
There's really nothing too out there about this idea. He's richer than Randy Lerner, has already shown an interest in sports teams, and at 64 years old is approaching the end of his "window" to embark on a new journey. But the fact of the matter is that there's very little outside of substantial evidence that would link him with buying Villa. Sure, he's freed up enough money to buy the club in 2014 but he's also freed up enough money to do loads of other things that super rich people do. The odds are really low that he ends up buying Villa (for the record, I'd put a good sum of money on Randy Lerner still owning Villa on August 16 when the season kicks off) but of all the names we've heard thrown out there, I still maintain he's the most likely. It's something interesting to keep our eyes on, sure, but I wouldn't get our hopes up.
Have a different opinion? Think Arison is actually lining up those funds to buy Villa? Let us know in the comments!