Chinese-led consortium buys AC Milan

The deal, worth more than $1B overall, tightens China's grip on Italian soccer. The sale was delayed by a Chinese government crackdown on overseas vanity deals.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

David Han Li (L), Yonghong Li (C) and Marco Fassone show AC Milan jerseys during a news conference in Milan, Italy, April 14, 2017.

A Chinese-led consortium on Thursday paid 740 million euros ($788 million) to buy AC Milan from Italian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in a deal that tightens China's grip on the game in Italy.

The deal is the biggest Chinese investment in a European club. It follows retail giant Suning Commerce Group's purchase of local rivals Inter last year. A Chinese firm also underwrites the media rights to the top league, Serie A.

The AC Milan deal overall is worth 1 billion euros ($1.06 billion), the club's CEO designate Marco Fassone said on Friday.

The Chinese investors are paying 740 million euros for the club, including debt. On top of that, 100 million euros would be paid to cover management costs in the run-up to the closing of the deal. Around 160 million euros would also be invested in the club, Fassone said.

It is the end of an era for Berlusconi. He bought the club in the 1980s and swiftly turned it into the top team in Europe. He also used it as a platform along with his media empire to help launch his political career.

Berlusconi's holding Fininvest sold its entire stake in the club to Luxembourg-based Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux, a company controlled by investor Li Yonghong.

"Its supporters have long hoped for AC Milan to be restored to former glory," Li said.

"Today we completed a key step in that path to rejuvenation, and into the future we will continue to push steadily ahead and bring this legendary team back to the summit of the world."

​Berlusconi, 80, is selling because he was unwilling to stump up the extra money required for the team to compete with the continent's top clubs, many now bankrolled by wealthy Gulf and Asian owners.

AC Milan is second only to Real Madrid in the list of winners of Europe's top club competition, but it has failed to win any major silverware since 2011 and is lying sixth in Italy's Serie A top division.

TRTWorld and agencies