MILAN Indonesian tycoon Erick Thohir has reached a preliminary, non-legally binding agreement with Inter Milan owner Massimo Moratti to take a stake in the Italian football club, a source close to the talks said on Thursday.
Thohir and Moratti have been in talks about a potential deal for months. Media reports have said Thohir might be willing to pay up to 350 million euros ($474 million) for a 75 percent stake in the cash-strapped Serie A club.
"Yesterday an agreement was reached in Paris," the source told Reuters. "It's not legally binding yet. The lawyers are still working on it and the final signatures are still not there."
The source did not give any details on the content of the deal. Daily Corriere della Sera said it would be signed at the start of next week.
A spokesman for the club said he had no information about the talks and was not aware if Moratti was currently in Paris.
Thohir already has an interest in a number of global sporting ventures, being part owner of Major League Soccer club DC United and NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers.
Moratti had previously said he was not ready to sell a majority interest in the club, which is loss-making and has debts of about 300 million euros. Even if the takeover went ahead, Moratti would be left in charge of operational management of the club, media reports have said.
Inter are traditionally one of the three biggest clubs in Italian football along with champions Juventus and city rivals AC Milan.
Inter have not won a trophy since 2010 and finished a disappointing ninth last season, missing out on a place in the lucrative Champions League.
Italian football has not attracted the major foreign investment seen in countries like England and France.
Europe's top league in the 1990s, Serie A has been tarnished by a series of corruption scandals and hooliganism has reduced crowd numbers.
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 the local authorities.
($1 = 0.7384 euros)
(Reporting by Massimo Gaia and Agnieszka Flak, editing by Ed Osmond)