Thai investor close to AC Milan deal

A.C.MILAN's dressing room at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium

An Italian newspaper has reported that Silvio Berlusconi, the owner of Italian football club AC Milan, has agreed to sell a 30-per-cent stake in the Serie A club to Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol.

Last month, Bee, who is executive director of Thai Prime Co Ltd, confirmed he had made an offer for the fallen Serie A giants and it is now being reported that the negotiations have nearly concluded.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's leading sports newspaper, former Italian prime minister Berlusconi met Bee on Thursday to finalise the deal, which would see Bee acquire a 30-per-cent stake in the seven-time European champions, whose nickname is the Rossoneri.

The agreement was valued at 250 million pounds (S$522 million), less than the 300 million pounds previously estimated by the Italian media, and is expected to go through in May.

The report further stated that under the conditions, should Berlusconi change his mind and renege on the deal, he would have to pay a penalty in the region of 25 million pounds.

If Bee does clinch the deal with the AC Milan boss, it would be the biggest deal ever by a Thai investor buying a football club overseas.

In 2010, King Power International Group bought then second-tier English club Leicester City for 35 million pounds before leading the East Midlands club back into the top flight for the first time in a decade in the current Premier League campaign.

A Thai consortium led by Samrit Bunditkitsada followed suit in 2014 when they were successful with their takeover bid for Reading, another (second-tier) championship outfit, for 35 million pounds.

Earlier this year, another Thai businessman, Dejphon Chansiri, completed his acquisition of Sheffield Wednesday for 30 million pounds.

Milan has struggled since winning the last of its Serie A titles in 2011.

The club, which went through four different head coaches last season, is currently lying in the middle of the 20-team Serie A following a 2-2 draw with Verona on Sunday.

It trails leaders Juventus by 26 points with 12 games remaining.

Despite its onfield struggles, the Rossoneri was ranked the 12th richest club in world football by Deloitte in January with revenue of 208.8 million pounds for the 2013-14 season.

If a deal is concluded, AC Milan will follow its city rivals, Inter Milan, in attracting the money of southeast Asian investors.

In 2013, Indonesian Erick Thohir headed a group that acquired a 70-per-cent stake in Inter Milan.