With the Mr. Bee debacle clearly in the past, it appears as though Silvio Berlusconi is edging closer to selling a majority stake of Milan. Leading business publication Bloomberg News is reporting that the negotiations to sell the club to a Chinese-led consortium are at an advanced stage, and the target is to have a deal in place by this June. The report goes on to say that the new owners and Berlusconi have already had preliminary discussions about a significant investment in this summer's transfer market to make the club more competitive.
While the names of the potential investors are still unknown, Bloomberg suggests that they have a background in renewable energy and media, while La Corriere Dello Sport suggests that the leader of the consortium is either Robin Li or He Xiangijan. Li is the seventh richest man in China with a networth of about $10 billion, having made his fortune as the founder of one of China's biggest search engines. Xiangijan is listed as the ninth richest man in China with a networth around $10 billion. Xiangijan accumulated his wealth by founding China's largest appliance maker. Sky Italy is also reporting that Berlusconi is seriously considering selling the majority of the club, and that any potential sale would come at a cost of €650-750 million.
Milan have been owned by Silvio Berlusconi since 1986, as he holds the majority of the club's shares through his investment company Fininvest. After close to 25 years of success Berlusconi appeared to lose interest in the club around 5 years ago, and has been reluctant to invest on the transfer market ever since. Last summer there was a prolonged negotiation with Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol, but Taechaubol missed multiple deadlines during the closing of the deal and the deal is now regarded as "dead". Many viewed the Taechaubol sale as a publicity stunt as information circulated that "Mr. Bee" had nowhere near the amount of money needed to purchase the club.
The Chinese have showed that they are serious about entering the world of football, look no further than their domestic league which has snapped up players like Gervinho, Fredy Guarin, and Alex Teixeira for absurd amounts of money. If Milan were to be owned by a wealthy and ambitious group of Chinese investors, hundred million dollar transfer windows could be a common occurrence on the red side of Milan.
Despite constant affirmations that he would not sell the majority of the club, it appears that Berlusconi has finally faced reality. Finding serious investors to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a company that they have no control over is unrealistic to say the least. If a significant sale was to occur, it would have to be for the majority of the company. The news of Berlusconi's willingness to sell the majority share is promising to those who want to see the longtime President sell the club. If he is really serious about selling the majority, there's a good chance buyers will line up to acquire one of the biggest clubs in football.
While details are still fairly murky and there has not yet been any official word from Fininvest or the consortium backers, it appears as though Berlusconi is edging closer to a sale. A potential sale would breathe fresh life into a club that has been stagnating for 4 seasons and has been faltering in the standings. If this sale does go through, Milanisti will finally be able to dream again.