Business / Industries

Chinese buyers agree AC Milan stake

By Wang Mingjie and Liu Jing in London (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-01 10:48
Chinese buyers agree AC Milan stake

Fans of the AC Milan soccer club at a contest between the team and Real Madrid in Shanghai.[Provided to China Daily]

A Chinese consortium has agreed to take an initial 80 percent stake in Italian Serie A soccer club AC Milan, with the remaining 20 percent to be acquired in the next two to three years, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

"Two parties are discussing the 80 percent takeover by the Chinese investors, and the negotiations are still continuing," the person said.

"The Rossoneri (AC Milan) is valued at 700 million to 750 million euros ($775 million to $831 million), including 200 million euros in debt."

Discussions had earlier centered around a 70 percent initial stake.

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose Fininvest group owns the club, will become an informal adviser to the new owner and will be the club's honorary president.

Fininvest is confident that a final agreement can be reached in the next week, although some important legal and financial details have still to be agreed. A final decision will be made by Berlusconi once all the documents are ready, the source added.

The negotiating period was due to end on June 20, but the deadline was postponed to at least June 30, as Berlusconi required heart surgery.

On June 6, Chinese retail giant Suning Commerce Group agreed to acquire a 68.55 percent stake in Inter Milan, AC Millan's great rivals, in a deal worth 270 million euros.

Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports enterprise at Salford Business School in Britain, said Chinese interest in Italian soccer is a major sign of vision and intent.

It is also an opportunity to acquire new knowledge from leading European clubs, and for Italian soccer, it is a new beginning after its struggles during the past decade.

"We can see how important this relationship is from the Italian football federation staging its Supercoppa games in China. If AC Milan is bought by Chinese investors and can play some games in China, the potential for deep and meaningful fan engagement is huge," Chadwick said.

China is actively looking at sports opportunities in Europe.

This week, iRENA group, a leading Chinese sports business company and partner of several leading Chinese Super League clubs, signed a deal with UK sports agency Pitch International to set up a joint venture.

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