Football: New Inter owner Thohir elected club president after takeover finalised

MILAN (AFP) - New majority shareholder Erick Thohir has been elected president of Serie A giants Inter Milan after completing his takeover, the club announced on Friday.

Indonesian businessman Thohir, who recently purchased a 70 per cent stake in the club, succeeds former owner Massimo Moratti as president following a vote at an assembly of the club's key shareholders.

Reports in the Italian press recently suggested that oil tycoon Moratti would stay on as club president, but he was handed an honorary president's role instead.

Moratti's son Angelomario Moratti is on the club's eight-man board and, as vice-president, will become one of Thohir's key lieutenants alongside long-time business partners Rosan Roeslani and Handy Soetedjo.

Calling it a "truly special day" in his life, Thohir was quoted as saying on the club's website "I really want to thank my friend and new partner Massimo Moratti for the trust and support, and thank also my partners Rosan and Handy, who I've known for more than 20 years.

"This is a truly special day in my life. Inter is a magnificent story of passion, a tradition of winning and commitment to excellence.

"As (club legend) Giacinto Facchetti said, 'the secret of every triumph lies in your own belief'. Our belief lies in our passion and our passion will pave the way for Inter's future success. Forza Inter."

Moratti said he was convinced the new set-up would help add to Inter's previous successes.

"I am convinced they are more than equipped to keep on adding new successes to our beloved colours," said Moratti, who has witnessed the highs and lows of owning a top team in Europe during an 18-year reign.

Inter were the last Italian club to win the Champions League, achieving the feat under coach Jose Mourinho in their treble-winning season of 2010.

But since then the Nerazzurri (Black and Blues), as the team is affectionately known, have underachieved.

A disappointing ninth-place finish last season left Inter out of Europe and led to the sacking of Andrea Stramaccioni as coach.

Now under the guidance of Walter Mazzarri, who led Napoli to the runner-up spot behind Juventus in Serie A last season, Inter look to have become a force to be reckoned with again, at least on the domestic front.

They currently sit fourth, seven points adrift of leaders Roma but only three points behind Napoli, who are third and in the final Champions League qualifying place.

Thohir - who has one eye on opening up new markets and fan bases in Asia, including Japan - said last month he wants a team based on "experience and youth, led by players like (Colombian Fredy) Guarin and (Japan's Yuto) Nagatomo."

Such statements are likely to stun fans hoping Thohir's millions will mean the purchase of established big-name stars from Europe and beyond.

However, the 43-year-old has regularly pledged that he has "come to Inter to win".

Thohir, who made his fortune in establishing and taking over media companies, is no stranger to the international sports business arena.

He bought into Major League Soccer club DC United and the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, both of which showed marked improvements in performance since his involvement.