Football: China's Suning to buy 69% stake in Inter Milan, says source; Thohir stays president

Jindong Zhang (centre), CEO of the Suning Commerce Group, arriving for the Italian Serie A football match between Inter Milan and Udinese Calcio, on April 23, 2016.
Jindong Zhang (centre), CEO of the Suning Commerce Group, arriving for the Italian Serie A football match between Inter Milan and Udinese Calcio, on April 23, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

NANJING (REUTERS) - Chinese retail giant Suning Commerce Group has agreed to buy a 68.55 per cent stake in Italian Serie A football club Inter Milan, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Former Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti will sell off his entire stake in the club, which amounts to just under 30 per cent, while current majority owner Erick Thohir will cut his stake to 31 per cent and stay on as president, the source said.

Suning and Inter Milan are due to make an announcement in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing on Monday, widely expected to confirm that Suning will buy a majority stake in the Italian club.

A call to the club's office in Milan was unanswered.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping an avid supporter of the game, Suning's deal to take control of the 2010 European club champions is the latest step in a plan to create a global sports empire stretching from football clubs to online broadcasting.