AC Milan Sold To Chinese Consortium

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Silvio Berlusconi finally managed to sell his soccer team AC Milan, Italy’s most successful club at the international level.

With the sale, Berlusconi parts ways with a team that’s burnished the former Italian premier’s standing yet lost money as the 80-year-old magnate battles Vivendi SA over the future of his media empire. Li plans to list AC Milan shares on the Honk Kong stock exchange, possibly in the next two to three years, the people said.

The buyers plan to invest capital into AC Milan aimed at increasing the team’s liquidity and strengthening the team’s financial structure, according to the statement.

Former Inter Milan director Marco Fassone will be appointed as AC Milan’s new chief executive officer, replacing longtime Berlusconi aide Adriano Galliani.

Paolo Scaroni, former CEO of energy company ENI SpA, and Marco Patuano, ex-CEO of phone carrier Telecom Italia SpA, will be appointed to the team’s board on Friday, the people said.

Last month, the original group of Chinese investors lost the backing of its state-owned partner, Haixia Capital Management Co., forcing Li to find a way to finalize the acquisition, which includes 220 million euros in debt. Singer’s fund agreed to provide the loan, which includes 180 million euros for the closing, 73 million euros to cover the club’s operating expenses since August and 50 million euros targeted for the summer transfer market, according to the people.

Chinese Buyers

Li, who will become chairman of the soccer club, had to use his personal wealth to help complete the deal and also pledged the team as a guarantee to secure financing from Elliott, according to the people.

With the closing he paid a 90 million-euro refund to cover money Berlusconi’s Fininvest SpA injected into AC Milan since the preliminary deal was signed last summer.

The AC Milan deal is one of the most high-profile soccer team acquisitions by Chinese investors.

The sale of AC Milan, which pays its crosstown rival on Saturday, has been troublesome.

The original investment group has changed several times, and in September Bloomberg News reported it filed a false bank report during negotiations with Berlusconi’s company. Li denied the allegations.

The deal, originally scheduled to be completed in December, also was delayed because the investment group lacked authorization to export funds from China.

Regulators in China have been ramping up their scrutiny of outbound investments, with a particular focus on sports and entertainment.

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