After long delay, Berlusconi finalizes sale of AC Milan to Chinese consortium
MILAN (AP) Silvio Berlusconi's 31-year reign at AC Milan is over.
Italy's most successful club was finally sold by the former Italian prime minister to a Chinese-led consortium after several delays over the past few months.
Berlusconi's holding company, Fininvest, released a statement Thursday announcing that it had completed the transfer of its 99.93 percent stake in Milan to Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg - which was formerly known as Sino-Europe Sports.
The group, led by Chinese businessman Yonghong Li, has been attempting to buy Milan for some time but the deal has hit a series of delays and the sale has been postponed twice.
''I thank Berlusconi and Fininvest for their trust and the fans for their patience. From today we will build the future,'' Li said.
The deal, which values Milan at 740 million euros (about $800 million), requires the investors to spend 350 million euros ($372 million) over three years on improvements.
''The buyers have confirmed their commitment to fulfill important recapitalization investments to the balance sheet and strengthen AC Milan's finances and assets,'' Fininvest said in the statement.
A general shareholders' meeting has been called for Friday when the names of the new president and directors will be announced. There is also expected to be a news conference on Friday.
The new owners' first match will be Saturday's derby against Inter Milan, which is also owned by a Chinese company.
''This is an epochal day for Milan,'' AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. ''I would like to thank Berlusconi and (vice president Adriano) Galliani for having given me the opportunity to coach a club as glorious as the Rossoneri.
''In the next few days I will meet the new management and together we will find the solutions to make Milan as successful as it was in the past.''
During Berlusconi's reign, Milan won a number of trophies at home and abroad. The Rossoneri won eight league titles, one Italian Cup and seven Super Cups as well as five Champions League trophies and five UEFA Super Cups.
But the famous Italian club has slipped from the top in recent years and is currently sixth in Serie A.
Milan won the Italian Super Cup in December, beating Juventus for its first trophy in six years.
''I'm leaving today, after more than 30 years, the title and job of Milan president,'' Berlusconi said in a long statement on Milan's website. ''I do it with pain and emotion, but with the knowledge that in modern soccer, in order to compete at the top European and world levels, you need investment and resources which one single family is not able to sustain.
''I will always be the first fan of Milan, the team that my father taught me to love as a child, the dream that we realized together. To the new owners I give my best and most heartfelt wishes that you achieve goals even more extraordinary than those achieved by us.''