Football: Indonesian tycoon on way to buying 70% stake in Inter, say reports

Inter Milan's Japanese midfielder Yuto Nagatomo (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their Serie A football match against Genoa at San Siro Stadium in Milan on Aug 25, 2013. Inter Milan are edging closer to a deal with E
Inter Milan's Japanese midfielder Yuto Nagatomo (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their Serie A football match against Genoa at San Siro Stadium in Milan on Aug 25, 2013. Inter Milan are edging closer to a deal with Erick Thohir that would see the Indonesian tycoon acquire a majority share in the Serie A football giants, reports said on Thursday, Sept 19, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

MILAN (AFP) - Inter Milan are edging closer to a deal with Erick Thohir that would see the Indonesian tycoon acquire a majority share in the Serie A football giants, reports said on Thursday.

The businessman has been linked with a takeover of the Italian club since last season, which Inter finished in a disappointing ninth place, failing to qualify for European competition in the process.

Inter president Massimo Moratti and Thohir met twice, in May and June, this year but failed to reach agreement.

But reports in La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Thursday said the pair had held talks in Paris this week and had made "significant progress" towards signing a deal that would see Thohir acquire a majority 70 per cent stake.

Neither Moratti, who made his fortune in the oil industry, nor Thohir were quoted in the report.

Inter, the last Italian side to win the Champions League, in 2010 when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho, are reported to be desperate for a move away from the San Siro ground they share with city rivals AC Milan.

However, Moratti also wants the club to take advantage of ripe markets in Asia which English Premiership giants like Manchester United have exploited.

He told the media last month that he was still keen to attract investment that would help further promote the club worldwide.

"As a club Inter needs to expand and break into new markets. And with Erick (on board) this would be possible," Moratti was quoted as saying on Aug 3.

Gazzetta's report claimed that Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, already boasted 11 million Inter fans.

He quoted unnamed sources close to Thohir as saying this week: "Erick is very excited."