Inter Milan hands over control to Indonesian investors

  • Football
  • Wednesday, 16 Oct 2013

MILAN (Reuters) - A group of Indonesian investors led by Erick Thohir has agreed to buy 70 percent of Inter Milan, bringing to an end the reign of the Moratti family in one of the few major foreign deals for a leading Italian football club.

Rising costs and falling profits have prompted the owners of some Italian clubs to reconsider their positions because of the heavy investments needed to stay in top-flight football.

In 2011, former Serie A champions AS Roma, top of the league currently, was sold by Italy's Sensi family and is now under U.S. management. Press reports have said former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi might be prepared to sell Inter's city rivals, AC Milan, which he owns.

"Everything's been signed," Inter owner Massimo Moratti told reporters on Tuesday outside his offices in Milan, referring to the deal to sell to Thohir.

Inter said in a statement that the stake sale would take place through a capital increase reserved for the Indonesian investors. It did not disclose any price details.

"The money will not go to Moratti. The family will be diluted in the deal," a source close to the matter said.

Thohir is already part owner of U.S. Major League Soccer club DC United and basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers and heads a three-person consortium taking control of the former Italian champions.

Italian media have previously said Thohir might be willing to pay up to 350 million euros (297.9 million pounds) for up to 75 percent of the Serie A club.

Inter are traditionally one of the three biggest clubs in Italian football along with champions Juventus, controlled by the Agnelli family, and AC Milan.

The club, which stands fourth in the Italian league in the early stages of the current season, have not won a trophy since 2010 and finished a disappointing ninth last season, missing out on a place in the lucrative Champions League.


Thohir's partners are fellow Indonesian businessmen Rosan Roeslani and Handy Soetedjo. Roeslani is a one-time shareholder and former board director of London-listed miner Bumi.

In May he agreed to transfer cash and assets worth $173 million in exchange for Bumi agreeing to drop legal claims against him.

Moratti, in charge of Inter since 1995, said he was not sure if he would stay on as club president.

"If I can be useful I will continue," he told reporters.

His father, Angelo Moratti, owned the club in the 1960s when Inter won the European Cup twice in successive years.

Italian tyre company Pirelli, headed by Italian businessman Marco Tronchetti Provera, has a 1.6 percent stake in Inter. Tronchetti Provera is a regular visitor to Inter's San Siro stadium and a friend of Moratti.

Italian football has not attracted the major foreign investment seen in countries like England and France.

Europe's top league in the 1990s, Italy's Serie A has been tarnished by corruption scandals and hooliganism has reduced crowds.

Italian clubs have been held back commercially because many of them do not own their stadiums and have been unable to upgrade them to cater fully for wealthy corporate clients.

Inter, for example, share the San Siro stadium with AC Milan and the ground is owned by local authorities.

(Writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Keith Weir, Erica Billingham and Patrick Lannin)

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