Berlusconi may keep majority of AC Milan as sale negotiations intensify

MILAN (AP) — AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi could retain a majority stake of the club, he said in his first comments about a potential sale of the team he has owned for nearly 30 years.

Berlusconi met with Bee Taechaubol on Saturday at the Thai businessman's hotel in central Milan to continue negotiations, which have intensified this week.

It was expected that Taechaubol and his associates would buy between 51 to 60 percent of Milan for an estimated 500-600 million euros ($560-$672 million).

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"Everything is being discussed: there is the possibility that I will keep the 51 percent," Berlusconi said. "Soon we will meet again to be able to define every aspect of Milan's future.

"For me it is an affair of the heart, which is so very important and completely outside all of the normal rapports with companies."

Berlusconi, who was Italian premier three times, took over Milan in February 1986 and presided over its most successful era as the team won 28 trophies, including eight Serie A titles and five European Cups.

However, the team's form has dipped in recent years and Taechaubol has reportedly persuaded Berlusconi to sell by assuring he will invest significantly in the squad.

"My concern is that Milan returns to the top in Italy, in Europe and in the world," Berlusconi said. "I found Mr. Bee to be a very serious person who has respected all the technical parameters of the contract. We've become friends and we think we can do good things continuing our rapport.

"The deal will allow the brand of Milan, which is the most recognized football club in the world, to spread its marketing influence in Asian countries and we are working on that."

The 78-year-old Italian said he will remain as club president.

"I want to thank the president for this opportunity," Taechaubol said. "There are still a few things we have to work on, there are several remaining details we need to define and we will continue to work together. We hope to finish everything as soon as possible."

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