Scoring big – the Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group is taking a controlling interest in Italian football club Inter Milan.
Suning, part owned by e-commerce firm Alibaba, is buying nearly 70 percent for 270 million euros, and will take on much of the loss-making club’s debt – reported to be around 230 million euros as of June 2015.
“The acquisition of Inter Milan is part of Suning’s strategy in the development of the sports industry,” said Zhang Jindong, chairman of Suning Holdings Group, which plans to subscribe for new Inter Milan shares and buy existing shares.
“This will… help Suning to grow internationally.”
It is the highest profile takeover of a European team by a Chinese company and the first major overseas purchase by Suning, which already owns a successful club there – Jiangsu Suning, which is currently third in the Chinese Super League.
Inter says it has 150 million fans in Asia, including over 100 million in China.
“The popularity of the game, particularly in Asia and China, is going through a period of massive growth,” current majority owner and president Erick Thohir said. Thohir is an Indonesian businessman.
Inter, famous for their blue and black shirts, were European champions for the third time in 2010 but had a lacklustre season in 2015/16, finishing fourth in the Italian league and failing to qualify for the next Champions League.