August 11, 2016 / 7:51 PM / 4 years ago

AC Milan's Chinese buyers name club's future CEO

MILAN (Reuters) - The Chinese buyers of Italy’s AC Milan have named a former Juventus and Inter Milan manager as future chief executive of the soccer club.

The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan, Italy April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing, the vehicle used by the investors to acquire AC Milan, said in a statement on Thursday Marco Fassone would be CEO and managing director of the club once the deal closed.

“I confirm that after the closing (of the deal) I will be chief executive and director general of AC Milan,” Marco Fassone said in a text to Reuters, confirming the statement.

Fassone added that in the coming months he would act as an advisor to Sino-Europe Sports.

The Chinese consortium, led by investment fund Haixia Capital and Yonghong Li, signed a preliminary agreement last Friday with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for the acquisition of the Serie A club.

The deal, which values AC Milan at 740 million euros ($824 million), including 220 million euros of debt, is expected to be closed by the end of the year.

A spokesman for Fininvest, the Berlusconi family holding company, told Reuters the current management of AC Milan - with Adriano Galliani as vice-president and CEO of the club - would not change until the deal was finalised.

Berlusconi has been loathe to sell what has always been one of his most cherished assets. But the 79-year old tycoon is reshaping his business empire to prepare for his own succession.

AC Milan reported a loss of 93.5 million euros last year and needs cash to put it on a par with the top European clubs.

“Thirty years ago I bought Milan out of love. I am selling it now out of a still bigger act of love,” Berlusconi said in a message to AC Milan fans on his Facebook page.

“I am handing the team over to a group with the necessary resources and the will to invest to allow Milan to compete with the big international clubs.”

Second only to Real Madrid in the list of winners of Europe’s top club competition, AC Milan has been European champion for seven times but has failed to win any major silverware in the past five years.

Fassone, 52, previously worked as chief operating officer for Italy’s serie A club Juventus. He was managing director of Napoli for two years and for AC Milan’s rival Inter Milan for three years from 2012.

($1 = 0.8976 euros)

Reporting by Giulia Segreti, additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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