Chinese investment abroad continues as China’s leading electronics retailer Suning invest in Serie A giants Inter Milan. The Chinese company has bought nearly 70% of the Italian club, becoming the first Chinese investment group to buy into a Serie A team.
The controlling share in the club cost Suning more the $300 million dollars, but former Inter Milan owner Erick Thohir will remain as president, controlling the remaining stock in the club at 31%,
Following the takeover Thohir spoke of Suning’s acquisition in the Italian football team.
“This new partnership with the Suning Holdings Group means Inter are taking a revolutionary step into the future,” Thohir said.
“In the past two and a half years we have built on a solid foundation, making the club stronger.
“Now this new partnership will allow us to take a new, decisive step forward in our bid to restore Inter to their rightful place among the world’s top clubs.”
Suning is yet another example of Chinese investment abroad. In recent weeks, Chinese investors have bought into Italian companies, while football clubs have been on the radars of Chinese firms for some time.
AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi had long been rumoured to be negotiating with Chinese investors to take over Inter’s arch-rivals. Although, Berlusconi is still holding on to the club. Italy’s oldest club, Genoa, have also been linked with a sale to an unnamed Chinese firm. However, like the Milan deal, nothing has come of it at this time.
“Suning will inject a steady stream of capital investment in Inter Milan, which will help attract more talented players,” Suning chairman Zhang Jindong stated.
Current manager Roberto Mancini is expected to remain with the club as Inter look for new players to improve the squad ahead of next term. Inter have failed to reach the levels of success they saw in 2010 under then coach Jose Mourinho. That season saw the black and blue win the Serie A title, Italian Cup and UEFA Champions League.
Chinese investors are currently buying into football clubs around the world. Atletico Madrid, New York City FC and Aston Villa are all clubs with new Chinese backing. Inter can be considered a coup for Suning, as the club already have a worldwide fanbase and have played matches in China in recent years.
While Chinese investment in football clubs abroad is increasing, so has the investment in Chinese soccer at home. Last January, Chinese Super League and League One teams spent over $430 million on playing talent. The spending spree is part of China’s plan to improve soccer player development in a three-tiered plan that will see the country competing on the same level with the world’s best by 2050.
Suning have already bought a Chinese Super League team in the city of Nanjing. The club, Jiangsu Suning F.C. splashed cash on Brazilian stars Ramires and Alex Teixeira in the winter. The club spent over $109 million combined on the two Brazilians.
The company has also bought the rights to broadcast Spain’s La Liga through its live-streaming website. Suning is continually trying to diversify its investments in football as Chinese investors race to snap up available football entities.
It is unknown how Suning will finance the deal for Inter Milan at the moment. The deal is reportedly worth double the company’s net profit of $133.2 million.