November 30 – The sale of AC Milan by Silvio Berlusconi to Chinese investors looks increasingly certain to take longer than the December 13 completion deadline. Berlusconi is now saying that he would be prepared to allow a 6-week extension, for a further non-refundable down-payment.
The investors, backed by Haixia Capital and entrepreneur Yonghong Li, agreed a deal in August through investment vehicle Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing (SES)). They have already paid €100 million in two separate tranches to Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest. That leaves €420 million due at the shareholders’ meeting on December 13.
“I know what Chinese bureaucracy is like and I know that you need a long time to obtain authorisations,” Berlusconi told Italian TV. “I’ve spoken with the directors of Fininvest [nominal owners of Milan] and if the date set for the conclusion of the deal is not manageable due to these authorisations and if there is proof from the banks that the outstanding money exists, we could give them another month, month-and-a-half.”
Berlusconi said that he had been assured by the Chinese that the money was on its way but maintained that if it didn’t arrive he would be prepared to step back into the club, and that if he did so it would be to build a team based around young Italian talent like 17-year old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma who has already established a place in the national team.
Currently Europe’s giant clubs are eyeing a number of young AC Milan players though no players will be sold while the sale is on-going. Berlusconi says that if he did remain in control (“I can tell you one big secret, I also hope [that Milan remain mine]”, he said), then no players would be sold.
The likelihood is that the Chinese will come through but before takes another significant non-refundable deposit (perhaps as much as €50 million) from the Chinese to buy the time they need to get the money transferred.
For Berlusconi, who has owned the club for 30 years, it will be the end of a glorious era personally and for the club.
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