Chinese consortium buys Italy's AC Milan soccer club

Updated 2017-04-14 09:00:55 China Daily

AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi sold the much-vaunted Italian soccer club to Chinese run Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux on Thursday, in a deal that values the club at 740 million euros (7 million).

Berlusconi's company Fininvest released a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming the sale, following the collection of signatures from both parties including Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux general director Han Li at Milan law firm Gianni Origoni & Partners at around 10:30 am Milan time.

Berlusconi and vice-president Adriano Galliani will step down and the takeover will be officially ratified at an AC Milan shareholder's meeting on Friday when new directors will be appointed, according to the statement. The ratification is ceremonial as Berlusconi's company Fininvest controls 99.93 percent of shares in the club.

Fininvest agreed to sell the club to a Chinese consortium in August 2016 in a deal that valued the club at around 740 million euros (7 million). However, a series of late payments and questions over the identity of members of the consortium saw the sale stall.

The beleaguered deal was revived in late March, when the Wall Street Journal reported that US hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. had agreed to part fund the sale.

AC Milan is the now the second major Serie A club under Chinese ownership. Suning Commerce Group bought a 68.55 percent stake in Inter Milan for a reported 270 million euros in June last year.

Berlusconi is understood to have required assurances from the new owners of significant initial investment in the historically dominant club that has struggled for form in recent years. Sempre Milan, a site that aggregates AC Milan news, wrote on Thursday that a summer transfer budget of 130 million euro was disclosed at the signing.

Chinese investors have undergone a determined drive into European football over the last few years, buying minority stakes in clubs with lucrative brands like Manchester City and Atletico Madrid and taking over major British clubs such as Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. The outright purchase of AC Milan is among the most high profile yet. The club has a storied history in European soccer and a global fanbase in the millions.

The sale will now be formally reviewed by Italy's football authorities.

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