Chinese investors to buy A.C. Milan in a deal valued at $825.8 mn

A group of Chinese investors yesterday struck a deal to buy A.C. Milan from owner and chairman Silvio Berlusconi in a deal that values the Italian premier football club at €740 million ($825.8 million).

Silvio Berlusconi had acquired a 99.3-per cent stake in A C Milan through his family's investment vehicle Fininvest SpA 30 years ago, saving it from the brink of bankruptcy.

The group buying the club is Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing, comprising among others of, Haixia Capital (a State development & investment corporation), and Yonghong Li, chairman of the management company and main sponsor of the investor group.

Under the deal, which values A.C. Milan at €740 million including debt of around €220 million, the Chinese group will invest €350 million over a three-year period, of which €100 million will be paid at closing of the transaction.

A C Milan was founded as Milan Cricket and Foot-Ball Club in 1899 by English expatriates Alfred Edwards and Herbert Kilpin, and won its first Italian championship in 1901 and a further two more in succession in 1906 and 1907.

But the club has struggled after 1907 although it competed for soccer's top prizes in Europe. Since Berlusconi took control of the team in 1986, Milan has won eight league titles and five European cups, the most-successful period in the club's 117 year history.

After taking over the club, Berlusconi hired manager Arrigo Sacchi and spent huge amount of money by signing international stars like Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Roberto Donadoni.

The A C Milan team of 1989-90 has been voted the best club side of all time in a global poll of experts conducted by World Soccer magazine.