On Tuesday, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told local newspapers that he has sold AC Milan to a Chinese consortium. Berlusconi claimed that as a part of the agreement, the new Chinese owners will be paying at least €400m for the Serie A giant over the next two years.
Berlusconi made those remarks after leaving the hospital three weeks after undergoing a heart surgery. “Milan has now embarked on this path toward China,” he said. The 79-year-old also talked about his serious concerns about the state of Italy, EU and the world; he hopes to still be useful to Italians.
Although the identity of the Chinese buyers was not disclosed, rumor has it that Chinese search engine Baidu’s owner Li Yanhong and real estate mogul Evergrande Group are involved in the purchase. According to reports, the consortium is looking to buy 80% of the club immediately.
Chinese investors have been very active in the European football scene since the beginning of Xi Jinping’s administration, gradually overtaking Middle Eastern oil money as the most dominant market force. Last month, Chinese businessman Tony Xia acquired the newly relegated Aston Villa of the Championship League while Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group bought AC Milan’s local rival, Inter Milan.
AC Milan has become one of the most successful football clubs in Europe since Berlusconi took over the club in 1986. However, the club has not been performing well financially and has not won a Serie A trophy since the departure of its star player Zlatan Ibrahimović in 2011. The Rossoneri is looking to turn its fortune around with the influx of some serious Chinese cash and perhaps some traditional Chinese marketing: