By Paul Nicholson
April 13 – Silvio Berlusconi has completed his long running sale of Serie A giants AC Milan to Chinese-owned Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg for €740 million.
Fininvest, Berlusconi’s holding confirmed the sale via a statement saying: “Today’s finalisation gives full effect to the takeover agreement signed by the managing director of Fininvest, Danilo Pellegrino, and David Han Li, the representative of Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux on August 15, 2016 and renewed on March 24 of this year.
“The details of the agreement are those announced and provide an overall valuation of AC Milan at €740m, consisting of a debt burden evaluated on June 30, 2016, as per the agreements between the parties, of around €220m.”
Berlusconi had owned the club for 31 years. In this time AC Milan have won 29 trophies including five European Cups/Champions League titles.
Sino-Europe Sports agreed the initial deal for the acquisition of AC Milan but after it failed to release funding from China to complete the deal, the acquisition was shifted into the Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg vehicle which received a €180 million loan from US hedge fund Elliott Management enabling the deal to go forward.
Chinese businessman Yonghong Li was already €200 million into the acquisition having personally provided two non-refundable €100 million deposits when the Chinese government went cold on investment in what the Chinese felt were over-priced European football clubs.
Li was faced with following his own money with more cash to make the sale, or walking away and losing €200 million. It is believed he supplied a further non-refundable €50 million to secure an extension when the last deal closure deadline was missed in March.
The quick arrival of the US hedge fund enabled the deal to go through. The terms of the US investment are not known, though the final €190 million required to complete the deal has been paid. Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg owns 99.93% of the club.
AC Milan haven’t played in the Champions League for the past two seasons and look unlikely to qualify this season, currently sitting sixth in the league. The new owners first game in charge will be again Milan rivals Inter, also with majority Chinese ownership in the form of Suning Holdings.
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