AC Milan sale provides boost for Mediaset holding company

MediasetMediaset holding company Fininvest has signed a preliminary contract with a group of Chinese investors to sell AC Milan in a deal that values the football club at €740 million, including debt estimated at €220 million.

The investors, grouped together as Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co Ltd, include state investment group Haixia Capital and Yonghong Li, chairman of the management company and investor group main sponsor, with whom Fininvest said it had been in talks for some time.

The deal requires the investors to strengthen AC Milan’s financial structure, investing €350 million a year over three years, with €100 million to be paid at closing. The group must also pay a €100 million deposit shortly after signing.

Proceeds from the sale could strengthen Mediaset’s position in its face-off with Vivendi over the cancelled sale of pay TV unit Mediaset Premium, by enabling Fininvest to reduce its net debt and potentially realise a significant capital injection.

Fininvest president Marina Berlusconi recently wrote a letter to Italian daily Corriere della Sera in which she attacked Vivendi, suggesting that it wanted to use the alleged financial weakness of Mediaset Premium as an excuse to force a new deal that would give it a base within Mediaset proper.