MILAN (AFP) - AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has rejected an offer of €970 million (S$1.5 billion) for the embattled Serie A club but could sell a minority stake if it came with a pledge to help build a new stadium, according to reports in Italy.
Crisis-hit Milan were forced to issue an official statement on Monday to deny reports the club was set to hold talks with a group headed by Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol about a possible majority takeover.
It had been claimed Taechaubol, the executive director of a south-east Asian private equity group, wanted to buy a 50 per cent stake in the club.
However, reports in the Il Sole 24 Ore financial newspaper on Tuesday said Berlusconi had, for the first time, "given his okay" for the sale of the club with Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin the favoured candidate.
The latest reports claim media tycoon Berlusconi, a two-time Italian prime minister, rejected a Singaporean-led bid to buy the club for €970 million.
It said the interested party were "friends of Thohir".
Indonesian Erick Thohir became the first Asian owner of a top Italian football club just over two years ago when he bought a majority stake in Inter Milan.
Milan have been crowned European champions seven times but the days when Berlusconi joined club coaches in holding the continent's most prestigious trophy aloft have long gone.
After 23 games of the current campaign, Milan - who failed to qualify for Europe this season - sit in 11th place, 24 points adrift of leaders and champions Juventus and 12 behind Napoli, who occupy the third and last Champions League qualifying spot.
Il Sole 24 Ore journalist Marco Bellinazzo, described as an "expert in football and finance", said the Singapore offer "was refused because Silvio Berlusconi believes that Milan is worth one and a half billion (euros)".
Bellinazzo believes that Wang, who last week bought influential Swiss sports marketing giants Infront for €1.05 billion, could now entice Berlusconi to sell a minority share with pledges to help the club in its objective to build a new stadium.
Wang had prior to that bought a 20 per cent stake in defending Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.
"The arrival in Italy of the Wanda Group and Wang Jianlin has created a new scenario, because it ties in very well with the (club's) new stadium projec," wrote Bellinazzo.
"...and Berlusconi's dream of selling a minority stake without losing control, letting (the new stakeholders) to take charge of the construction of the stadium."