Monday November 21 2011
Asian investment for Roma?

UniCredit are considering selling up to 20 per cent of their remaining share of Roma to Asian investors, the bank’s vice-general manager has confirmed.

Paolo Fiorentino has declared that the bank is ‘in discussions’ with an unnamed Asian-based investment group from China to cede shares in the Serie A club.

UniCredit currently have a 33 per cent holding of the capital club after American businessman Thomas Di Benedetto (pictured, right) completed a majority takeover over the summer.

“Has there been contact with a Chinese sovereign wealth fund? We have the ability to sell 20 per cent of our share, but we do not want to give it to just anyone. We still want try to enhance the value of Roma and through the expansion of shareholders we can add value to the brand,” explained Fiorentino.

“We see the possibility of Asian investors as a major asset. We’re seeing if there are investors half a world away, we are checking if there is an interest.

“Certainly during a time of turmoil in the economic markets investment in football is not crucial, but we are confident and we do not hurry.”

“We do not want to monetise the asset value and we want an investor who can bring value to the asset, there are discussions that have started.”

Fiorentino intimated that any deal would be with the agreement of Di Benedetto, who he had kind words for.

“Roma are a structured club that UniCredit and the Americans want to make stronger. For this, we are considering the options in China to hand over a share.

“[Di Benedetto] is the President and it is pleasant to see Roma run with him, but he is never exempt, and behind the good-natured manner he is very sleek and has always been doing business.

“He knows how to set up a company and is a terrifying negotiator, almost as bad as me. In the end we work very well together as we do with [one of Di Benedetto’s four business partners at the club] James Pallotta. They are much more present within the team than they appear.”

Fiorentino also looked to end reports that were discussing the controversy of a wage DiBenedetto can take in his role as Roma President.

“There is a maximum salary through advice that has been established, then the key people will hold a remuneration committee which is yet to happen and so Tom still has not set a salary at this time. We have established a frame, but not the amount that that will be.”