After months of talks, rumours, denials and countless delays – the historic day has arrived: Silvio Berlusconi is no longer the owner of Milan; ‘Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux’, led by Chinese businessmen Yonghong Li and Han Li, are the new owners after completing the acquisition on Thursday morning.
After 31 years, 29 trophies, many wins and losses, plenty of highs & also some lows, and countless of moments to cherish forever, Silvio Berlusconi has sold entire stack in Associazione Calcio Milan.
The man who bought the club in 1986 and brought Milan to the absolute top of the world, today (Thursday) says goodbye to the perhaps his greatest love, as the Chinese takeover has been completed.
Yesterday, Yonghong Li and Han Li – the leaders of the ‘Rossoneri Sport Investment Luxemburg’ group (previously part of Sino-Europe Sports which dissolved in the last months) – landed in Italy, and today Han Li had a meeting at the GOP law firm (Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners) along with Fininvest CEO Danilo Pellegrino and others in order to sign the documents.
The details of the operation were confirmed in the joint press release of Fininvest, up until today Milan’s holding company, and the new owners, Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux:
Today Fininvest has completed the sale of the entire stake owned in AC Milan – equal to 99.93% – to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.
The closing is the last step of the purchase agreement signed on August 5th 2016 and renewed on March 24th by Fininvest CEO Danilo Pellegrino and David Han Li, as a representative of Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.
The terms of the agreement are the same disclosed in August and reflect of an aggregate evaluation of AC Milan equal to €740 million, which includes the club’s indebtedness, equal to €220 million as of June 30th 2016. A €90 million refund for AC Milan’s running costs anticipated by Fininvest from July 1st 2016 hitherto add up to the evaluation.
The buyers also confirmed their commitment to undertake significant capital increases and liquidity injections aimed at strengthening AC Milan’s financial structure.
Tomorrow, Friday April 14th, AC Milan’s shareholders’ meeting will resolve, inter alia, on the appointment of the new governance bodies of the company.
Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux was supported by the financial adviser Rothschild & Co. and by the law firms Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners and Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli & Partners. Fininvest was supported respectively by Lazard and Studio Chiomenti.
Galliani was briefly present at today’s summit but left before the official announcement arrived. According to Sky Italia the historic CEO and Vice President was very visibly moved at the Lega Serie A meeting this afternoon at which he told the representatives of the other clubs of the sale of the Rossoneri. He received a big round of applause from everyone that was present.
Berlusconi himself did not attend the meeting. As reported this morning by il Corriere della Sera, Silvio, who refused the role of an Honorary President, finds it difficult to talk about the sale of Milan even with those who are close to him. He’s believed to be extremely saddened and hurt. It’s still not official but Yonghong Li is expected to be appointed the new President of Milan.
On Wednesday, the Milan Board of Directors resigned; the only person from the current board who is expected to keep working for the new Diavolo is club lawyer Leandro Cantamessa, who has been part of the Rossoneri since 1984 – even before Berlusconi took over the club.
It has already been confirmed that Marco Fassone will replace Galliani and Barbara Berlusconi as the club’s CEO and Massimiliano Mirabelli will be the club’s director of sport; together, along with the coach, they will lead the sporting side of Milan and will try to take it to the top.
The Chinese have bought 99.93% of Milan, which is the entire stack of Berlusconi; the rest is owned by minority shareholders, which are called ‘AC Milan’s Association for Minority Shareholders (APA)’. This group had previously raised many questions regarding the identity and the resources of the Chinese investors who today completed the acquisition of Milan. Those question marks have not entirely been removed as Yonghong Li and Han Li are both relatively unknown in China.
Big parts of the money used to complete the takeover arrived from the American hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation who agreed to loan Yonghong Li money to buy Milan. According to Il Sole 24 Ore, Elliott, through Blue Sky Asset Management, formed a holding company in Luxemburg called ‘Project RedBlack’ and using this company, they loaned €303 million to the new holding company of Milan – Rossoneri Sport Investment Luxemburg. It was reported in the past that Yonghong Li had agreed to pay them back the money in a future date with fixed interest.
Despite the many doubts and many delays, however, all the money has been paid and Berlusconi in his various interviews over the past couple of years in which negotiations took place, always assured he would only sell the club to someone with the financial strength to bring Milan’s glory days back.
It’s perhaps too early to talk about the transfer market, which as mentioned above – will be handled by Fassone and Mirabelli – but Il Sole 24 Ore still estimates that the Rossoneri will have €130-140m to spend in the upcoming summer. In addition to new purchases, there are also other priorities. The new ownership will look to give new contracts to star players Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mattia De Sciglio, Suso and also coach Vincenzo Montella, in whom they have faith according to reports.
It’s the first day of the new era at Milan. An era without Berlusconi and without Galliani, but with a new ambitious ownership. Their first objective – winning Saturday’s Derby della Madonnina.