Football: Italy's Berlusconi warming to Chinese bid for AC Milan, says source

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's family company is likely to open exclusive talks with Chinese investors interested in buying AC Milan.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's family company is likely to open exclusive talks with Chinese investors interested in buying AC Milan. PHOTO: AFP

MILAN (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's family company is likely to open exclusive talks next week with a group of Chinese investors interested in buying AC Milan, one of his most cherished assets, a source said on Saturday (May 7).

The tycoon is under pressure to finally relax his grip on the Serie A club he calls "my Milan", which has failed to win any major silverware in the past five years and is now in the red.

However, the club remains one of the most famous names in world football, having being crowned champions of Europe seven times and winning 18 Italian titles.

"It's very likely that an agreement will be reached next week that will lead to a deal in the next month," a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday.

The agreement would be between the consortium, and Berlusconi's family holding company, Fininvest. The makeup of the Chinese group is not clear.

The consortium has valued the club at 700 million euros (S$1,086 billion), including debt, another source said last week.

Last June, a group led by Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol reached a deal to buy a majority stake in AC Milan.

A person who followed the negotiations said Berlusconi changed his mind at the last minute and decided he did not want to sell more than 48 per cent in the club.

The agreement was revised to sell the 48 per cent for 480 million euros, but the new deal was never finalised.