Berlusconi opens exclusive AC Milan sale talks with Chinese group
By Elvira Pollina
MILAN (Reuters) - Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi opened exclusive talks on Tuesday with a group of Chinese investors about selling a majority stake in soccer club AC Milan, one of the media mogul's most cherished assets.
Berlusconi's family holding company Fininvest said it signed a memorandum with the Chinese consortium at a board meeting on Tuesday to "kick off in-depth negotiations." Fininvest gave no deadline but a source close to the matter told Reuters the talks would last one month and were non-binding.
"The Chinese are valuing the club at up to 750 million euros ($854 million), including debt," the source said.
Berlusconi, who has owned AC Milan for more than three decades, is looking to sell the club at one of the low points in its history that dates back to 1899.
Second only to Real Madrid in the list of winners of Europe's top club competition, AC Milan has failed to win any major silverware in the past five years and is lying a lowly seventh in Italy's Serie A top division.
The club, which reported a loss of 93.5 million euros last year, needs an injection of capital to fund its business and put it on a par with the top European clubs, many now bankrolled by Gulf and Asian owners.
But a deal to sell AC Milan is still far from certain as the 79-year-old four-time prime minister remains reluctant to loosen his grip over the club he calls "my Milan".