Saturday March 4 2017
Milan investors 'evaporated'

The Milan takeover by Sino-Europe Sports could be abandoned and Silvio Berlusconi keep the €200m, but financial analysts have “never seen anything like it.”

The closing has been postponed repeatedly since the initial agreement in August 2016 and had been due for Friday, but that deadline also passed without the necessary funds.

Now Berlusconi’s company Fininvest appear to have given a new ultimatum of another €100m deposit by March 10 or the entire takeover could be scrapped.

“The preliminary contract was signed on August 5 when Sino-Europe Sports pledged to buy Milan with 11 shareholders to be confirmed, among them very big figures who could give financial guarantees,” Il Sole 24 Ore financial analyst Marco Bellinazzo told Sky Sport Italia.

“From August 5 to February 27, this nucleus of investors evaporated and this week Yonghong Li turned up on his own, with some of these investors denying they were involved.

“They already invested €100m in August, another €100m for the first postponement and needed another €200m – which weren’t there.

“It was a bolt from the blue for Fininvest, who did not expect to be in this situation. Over the past week, the Chinese group insisted the money will be found.

“SES wanted to make clear in its statement that Yonghong Li is a broker, an intermediary. They also refer to situations out of their control, specifically that the Chinese government has cracked down on overseas investments because in the past so many operations were used to take illegal funds outside the country. It also created problems for the Lyon takeover.

“The €200m already paid are a guarantee for Fininvest. If the entire takeover were to be abandoned, that money would remain as a guarantee.

“In fact, technically Fininvest could shelve the whole affair tonight. The money was meant to guarantee the closing, but in case that doesn’t happen, it would remain with Fininvest. I have never seen anything like it. It’s a new situation.”

What of reports that Sal Galatioto or other investors could come in with a new offer to buy Milan?

“Galatioto was the intermediary who was seemingly close to concluding the preliminary agreement, but at the start of August that group evaporated and Yonghong Li became the leader.

“From midnight on March 3, anyone could come and try to buy Milan, as the preliminary contract has expired, but I don’t believe Berlusconi would be open to suggestions.”