Inter Milan's Achraf Hakimi celebrates scoring a goal with Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku. File photo: REUTERS/ALBERTO LINGRIA
Inter Milan's Achraf Hakimi celebrates scoring a goal with Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku. File photo: REUTERS/ALBERTO LINGRIA

Milan — Private equity firm BC Partners is in talks to buy into Italian football team Inter Milan, four sources familiar with the matter said, as top investor Suning looks for resources to inject into the loss-making Serie A club.

A deal, which could value the former European champions at more than €1bn, would be the latest sign of interest from private equity investors in Italian football.

A consortium including CVC, Advent and state-backed Italian fund FSI is buying a 10% stake in a media company handling Serie A’s football rights for €1.7bn.

Suning is looking to sell a stake of up to 40% in the Milan club valued at about €500m, one of the sources said. The source said BC Partners would be more of a financial investor and Suning, which would continue managing the club, would be able to buy back the stake in the future.

Goldman Sachs is advising Suning on the deal, the sources said. The Chinese electronics retailer has been the majority shareholder of Inter since 2016, when it bought a 68.55% stake for €270m.

BC Partners was open to buying either a minority or a majority stake in the club, a second source said, adding due diligence was still under way.

“BC is halfway through the due diligence process so no decision is imminent,” the source said. A third source said BC Partners was also interested in a full takeover of the club.

Earlier in January, Inter Milan president Steven Zhang shot down reports in the Italian media that he was looking to sell the Serie A club. Zhang is the son of Chinese billionaire Zhang Jindong, founder and chair of Suning.

Speaking to Italian state broadcaster RAI, Inter Milan CEO Giuseppe Marotta said on Wednesday Suning was weighing options in the interests of the club.

Under Suning’s ownership, Inter returned to the Champions League after a six-year absence in 2018 and finished as runners-up in the Europa League and Serie A in 2020.

Like other football clubs around the world, Inter are facing a drop in revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic, as matches are played in empty stadiums and sponsors cut their budgets.

The “Nerazzurri” posted a €102m loss in the financial year ended June 30. Suning and BC Partners did not immediately comment while Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Reuters

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