Oaktree Capital Takes Control of Inter Milan Amid Financial Turmoil

U.S. investment fund Oaktree Capital has taken ownership of Inter Milan after the club’s Chinese majority shareholder missed a 395 million euro payment. The focus is on achieving operational and financial stability. The move echoes a similar takeover of AC Milan by Elliott Management in 2018.

Reuters | Updated: 22-05-2024 16:09 IST | Created: 22-05-2024 16:09 IST
Oaktree Capital Takes Control of Inter Milan Amid Financial Turmoil

U.S. investment fund Oaktree Capital Management said it had taken ownership of Italian soccer champions Inter Milan after a missed 395 million euro ($428 million) payment from the club's Chinese majority shareholder. Granted by Oaktree in 2021 to the Luxembourg-based vehicle through which Chinese conglomerate Suning controlled Inter, the loan was guaranteed by the stake in Inter Milan.

That gave Oaktree, which specialises in providing rescue funding to struggling firms, the potential right to take control of the club in the event of a default. "Our initial focus is operational and financial stability. We have great respect for Inter Milan's management team," said Alejandro Cano, Managing Director and Co-Head of Europe for Oaktree's Global Opportunities strategy.

The turmoil off the field contrasts with the club's success on it, with Inter having last month secured their 20th Serie A league title and the second under Suning's ownership. Founded in 1908, Inter Milan is one of the most famous clubs in Italian soccer and home to top players including Lautaro Martinez and Nicolo Barella.

Suning bought a majority stake in the club in 2016 in one of the highest-profile forays by a Chinese business into European soccer. Since then, Chinese authorities have imposed curbs over overseas spending in sport and Suning has been hit by the COVID-19 downturn.

In a letter to fans published on the club's website on Saturday, Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang, the 32-year son of Suning's founder Zhang Jindong, warned the club's stability was at risk as attempts to find an agreement with Oaktree had been unsuccessful. There was no immediate comment from Suning. Inter Milan made an annual loss of 86 million euros in the 2022-2023 fiscal year and its total debts stood at 807 million euros.

Oaktree's move mirrors the takeover of Inter's local rivals AC Milan by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management in 2018. Elliott took control of AC Milan after Chinese businessman Li Yonghong missed a payment to the club. Elliott eventually sold AC Milan to RedBird Capital Partners in 2022 in a 1.2 billion euro deal. ($1 = 0.9223 euros)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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