Berlusconi to sell AC Milan to Chinese investors

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Milan, July 6 (IANS/AKI) Italian media mogul and former premier Silvio Berlusconi confirmed that he is selling AC Milan to Chinese investors in a deal he expects to inject 400 million euros into the Serie A team over two years.

"Milan has embarked on this path towards China," 79-year-old Berlusconi told reporters on Tuesday as he left hospital in Milan after heart surgery.

"I have agreed to sell AC Milan to group that can relaunch the side and bring it back to the top in Italy, Europe and the world, where it belongs," he continued.

"I demanded they invest at least 400 million euros in Milan over the next two years. They are an important group, with involvement from the Chinese state."

China's sixth richest man, internet entrepreneur Robin Li, the founder of search engine Baidu, is believed to be leading the consortium, which will purchase a 70 percent share in the club.

The seven-times European champions finished seventh in the league last season and have finished outside of the top six in each of the last three seasons, missing out on a place in European competition each time as a result.

AC Milan reported a 93.5 million euro loss last year and last week appointed Vincenzo Montella, a former international player, as their new coach last week.

Due to his legal woes over the past four years, Berlusconi said he had been unable to oversee the club as he did in the past, and for more than a year had been in talks with various parties to sell AC Milan.

The club's sale comes amid a rapid expansion of Chinese investment in European football. As recently as last month, Chinese retail group Suning Holdings paid 270 million euros for a 70 percent stake in AC Milan's arch rival Inter-Milan.

In March, billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda property group agreed a deal with Fifa to sponsor the next four soccer World Cups for an undisclosed sum.

Last year, a Chinese consortium, CMC, announced a 400 million euro investment for a 13 percent stake in British Premier League team Manchester City, and Dalian Wanda bought a 20 percent share of Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid.

Berlusconi bought AC Milan in 1986 when it was on the verge of bankruptcy and invested significantly in the club. He hired Arrigo Sacchi as coach, who led the team to European Cup victories in 1989 and 1990.

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