Business / Industries

Deal close on AC Milan stake

By WANG MINGJIE in London (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-28 09:21

Deal close on AC Milan stake

AC Milan's supporters cheer during a training session on the eve of the International Champions Cup football match between AC Milan and Real Madrid in Shanghai on July 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE

Silvio Berlusconi to remain club president for next few years until final interest acquired

A Chinese consortium has agreed to buy an initial 70 percent stake in Italian Series A soccer club AC Milan, with negotiations continuing over the sale of the remaining 30 percent, a person familiar with the talks told China Daily. 

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose Fininvest investment group owns the club, will remain president for the next two or three years until the final 30 percent is acquired by the Chinese. That part of the deal is still under discussion, the source said.

A possible clause, for the remaining stake to be bought by the Chinese investors, is still under discussion. The ultimate decision, it is understood, will be made by Berlusconi.

Negotiations are continuing and both sides will be discussing the governance of the club, as well as the financial structure.

"If everything goes as planned, a final agreement will be reached by June 15-20, subject to any changes," the source added.

The Italian side has asked the consortium to reveal "exactly who will be buying and how many of them there are", he added.

The Italians are also seeking a list of the consortium's members, with the percentage that each member intends to buy.

The exact amount has not yet been disclosed, but Italian press reports have in the past few days talked of a price of 700 million euros ($782 million) for the whole club.

Italian media reports also said talks in China between Suning Commerce Group and officials from Inter Milan, AC Millan's great rivals, have been positive but no other details of the rumored takeover bid were available.

Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports enterprise at Salford Business School in Manchester, said that as China pursues its sport industry vision and its soccer goals, "it is highly likely that we will see more European club acquisitions".

Chadwick said he believes there are obvious reasons for Chinese investors to get involved in the AC Milan deal.

"At one level, European football clubs like AC Milan can be revenue-generating investment opportunities. At another level, buying a club contributes to a diversified business portfolio, something that aligns with the conglomeration of some Chinese entertainment businesses," he said.

"Buying a top Italian club is also a good source of business intelligence, competence development and learning. If Chinese clubs are to learn how to successfully identify playing talent, build their marketing departments, understand how sponsorship deals work, engage fans and create exciting stadium facilities, then transferring knowledge from a European club an investor owns makes a lot of sense," Chadwick added.

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