Yonghong Li: “I was convinced Elliott was a trustworthy investor, I am ready to fight to safeguard my rights”

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Yonghong Li at Mondo Milan Museum at Casa Milan on August 28, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Yonghong Li at Mondo Milan Museum at Casa Milan on August 28, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

Yonghong Li has broken his silence, accusing Elliott Management for what has happened to him.

As of this morning, Chinese businessman Yonghong Li is officially no longer a part of Milan as his place in the Rossoneri Board of Directors has been revoked.

Li, who bought Milan from ex-Italy PM Silvio Berlusconi in April 2017, lost everything in just over a year, as he failed to reimburse Elliott for the €32m capital increase they paid in his place.

Yesterday, through a letter sent to il Sole Ore 24, Li broke his silence and told his side of the story:

It is with great regret that, as President, I address this letter to all the supporters, shareholders and employees of the prestigious AC Milan. Despite the numerous and incorrect rumours that emerged in the Italian and international Press, I can confirm that the Shareholders’ Meeting, called by Elliott for July 21, will sanction my exit and those of the directors I appointed to the club’s board.

First of all, I would like to clarify the following. My purchase of Milan was neither a rash decision nor one dictated by a passing infatuation. It stemmed from my passion for the team and belief in the economic potential of an investment in one of the noblest football teams in the world. Until June 30, 2018, I had paid almost €880m for AC Milan, of which only €280m was funded through Elliott, while I personally provided the remaining part.

Yonghong Li at Milanello on March 5, 2018. (@acmilan.com)
Yonghong Li at Milanello on March 5, 2018. (@acmilan.com)

I was convinced that Elliott was a trustworthy investor and, above all, a partner to share the duties and honors of a stimulating adventure like the ownership of a team who, throughout their glorious history, have won, among other trophies, seven Champions Leagues and 18 Serie A titles.

I made a mistake and only discovered it to my great detriment during my tenure.

Yonghong Li and Han Li during Milan-Inter at Stadio San Siro on December 27, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Yonghong Li and Han Li during Milan-Inter at Stadio San Siro on December 27, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

Elliott showed itself from the start to not be the partner I imagined but rather a lender totally disinterested in the complex management of a club of Milan’s standing, despite its control of the team’s board. All this happened despite repeated declarations from the fund regarding its alleged support for the club. In reality, financial support only came from me until that moment. I proceeded with a capital increase for a total of €88m for the benefit of the club under my ownership. The anticipated default was due to the failure to repay the €32m paid by Elliott on my behalf in June 2018. However, I would like to clarify the following. First of all, the funds needed to buy AC Milan were lower than the sum I paid due to the unfair financial covenants imposed by Elliott, which also has frozen part of the capital I invested in AC Milan, with the aim of obliging me to pay more than necessary. Secondly, of the €32m wanted by Elliott, €21m was repaid almost immediately.

And that is not all.

It was not possible for my staff and I to guarantee the commercial development we had in mind for the club because of the numerous constraints and limitations on corporate governance imposed by Elliott in its financing. Despite the obstacles created by the stringent commitments imposed by Elliott’s funding, I never lost my enthusiasm nor missed any ethical commitments to the Milan staff and fans.

Silvio Berlusconi with Han Li (left) and Yonghong Li (right)
Silvio Berlusconi with Han Li (left) and Yonghong Li (right)

In response to this, Elliott’s conduct has always proved to be careless and predatory: in short, the typical behavior of a ‘vulture fund’, as it has often been described in the past by the international Press.

I would like to mention, by the way of example, that at the moment Elliott appropriated my shares in AC Milan, I was offered the sum of €2 as compensation for my total investment!

The above very clearly shows the real nature of Elliott which, orchestrating a default in advance, not justified by a violation of Milan’s covenants, did not allow me to carry out the club’s strategic development or conclude a satisfactory sale of the team to a prestigious buyer who, unlike Elliott, has a real interest and a strategic plan for long-term investment in AC Milan. Also, it did not allow me to keep my promise to Mr. Silvio Berlusconi to increase the value and standing of the team we both love.

Yonghong Li and Han Li before Milan-Hellas Verona at Stadio San Siro on May 5, 2018. (@acmilan.com)
Yonghong Li and Han Li before Milan-Hellas Verona at Stadio San Siro on May 5, 2018. (@acmilan.com)

Finally, I would like to address all the Milan fans and all those who have considered me a ghost recently, telling them the following: During my time as President, I would like to remind all of you that I have never failed in my commitments and for this, I have proof of over €200m invested by me in the team under my ownership. I am ready to fight and I will do it to safeguard my rights and give assurances to the AC Milan shareholders, whom my beloved club deserve. Any deliberate and intentional maneuvers to reduce the value of AC Milan will be prosecuted by law.

Thank you for your hospitality and attention.

Hong Kong, 20 July 2018

Yonghong Li

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Kourosh

He’s both right and wrong. You should have known how a vulture fund works before getting into business with one. As for Elliot, it’s obvious that they’re in it for the money, but if they’re planning to raise the sporting and economic value of the club in the next three years and then sell to a billionaire, then I’m ok with that.

Whatever the reason, you failed Mr. Li. Thanks for the last mercato though.

Pato

Go and sit down Mr Li. You are now talking when the deed has been done. Investor came to buy from you but you refused. Were you sleeping before ??

Jibola

You can’t say you didn’t know all this about Elliot when you decided to go into business with them, Elliot is about the biggest hedge funds and everyone in financial sector worldwide knows how they operate. Even a whole country (Argentina) couldn’t wrestler their way out of Elliott, they are known predators and have always win. Why eat with the devil when your spoon is short? They choose their targets strategically, they pay the best lawyers and they won over 90% of legal battles, they don’t have mercy when it’s time for them to strike and you knew all these… Read more »

kaleva

I just wish the drama would end. All this surely affects the squad too.

Leo NanaKofi

Comment: Mr Li… Thank you so much for everything we appreciated what u did..

Please try and move on cux Milan had Move on we are okay now.. Please try and Move on

Ali

Sir, you are either a liar or a fool. And everybody, and of course you too, knew what Elliot were. So please just shut up.

Clark Kent

I feel sorry for Mr Li, thank you so much for the amazing summer Mercato of 2017, I’ve not been that excited about player transfers since Ibra and Robinho… I just wish all parties can be happy and this drama can end.

Raven

If it meant for him 11M or lose his investment, why didn’t he sell one star cheap and fast?. I dunno but this smells fishy.

I’m really into the young MIlan era, among the youngest squads in Europe hope Elliot keep it that way, this team needs stability.

Sheva

It sounds scary what happened to him. But still how can one be that naive and stupid to trust in Elliot when all sources claim that they are Evil-corp.
Thanks for invested 200m. But I think it’s over for you Mr. Li

Harris

Shut the fuck up.

Ink

Mr Li.
You just made bad choices.
Plus, we have not really seen and remarkable commercial development for Milan in China.
Unfortunate but you appointed Inter based directors when you had opportunity to at least approach for more true Milan based legends.
This is what happens when you put your trust into shinter people (disastrous summer market that see players you need leave and players you don’t need arrive)

Milan Wins

Shut the f. Up! You freaking rat eater that nearly ruined our Milan! With your shady and despicable character, we were almost banned from EL. UEFA knew you were a fraud and were adamant that you be gone, hence our expulsion and fine. Thank goodness Elliot got rid of you and that freak Han Li, Fass is gone next is that incompent ass Mirabelli that wasted 200M on average players, when we only needed a couple of quality additions to the squad that won the Coppa. To cap it all, you gave an inexperienced, cement-headed coach, who does not rotate… Read more »

Milanmario1

A trusting investment partner? Really? And there was I thinking Elliot was the only one in this world who would lend you the money because for everyone else you didn’t have what it takes to get involved with you!!

There’s is definitely something very fishy going on but we may never know it and to be fair as long as Milan is ok I dont really care.

Milanellofm

I feel sorry for you Li but it’s nobody’s fault but your own, you should have known what kind of funding they were before you went in business with them. Secondly and most important, had you paid your debts each and every time in a timely manner you would still own the club. The fact that you’re left with 2m is because you were too stubborn to take a minority share from commisso. I thank you for trying to bring milan up again and buying players but you were also bringing us down.

Sexion

You brought this unto yourself. I fail to understand how can he be so naive to trust Elliott. He invest 800 mil and he fails to pay 32 mil… We fans don’t cate about who owns Milan. We just want to see a winning and entertaining team.

soheil balini

So… he knows how to talk..!

soheil balini

I believe “the show” that we seen in last two years is getting to it’s end.
no one is that stupid. he had the chance to sell for 500M. now he has 2 euro? I never seen someone with that kind of money, without a legal team & finance team. the whole show is getting really frustrating! they should investigate all three parties.

SpagaRossonero

All of this – that he will lose ownership of the team if he doesn’t pay the money by certain date – has been known since he took over the club. I have no idea why he feels cheated now. I knew this could happen right away – and I actually am not at all surprised it did. Yes, under his tenure a lot of money was invested directly in team (good or bad, I won’t comment), but it is clear he lacked business savvy necessary to lead club of this magnitude. Let’s all hope Eliott is better at this.