The question many Milan fans have raised in recent months is legitimate: Who are these investors who underwrote Sino-Europe Sports Investment’s shares intending to detect the control of AC Milan?
For now, as announced by Fininvest press release last August 5th, we only know that the group of investors is composed of Haixia Capital, China’s State Fund for Development and Investment, and Yonghong Li, chairman of the management company, which has been among the promoters of the group with which Fininvest has long negotiated until today’s signing.
The complete list of investors, as reported today by the newspaper Milano Finanza, would have already been compiled and notified to Fininvest and the investment bank Lazard, which assists Berlusconi’s family holding in the transaction (the Rothschild and the firm Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners instead assist Sino-Europe), but so far nothing has transpired, fueling doubts about the possible outcome of the deal.
The complete list of the prospective shareholders of AC Milan, writes Repubblica, might not be disclosed in the earlier stages of the closing, despite fans and Italian commentators request for more transparency.
In fact, the names of some shareholders of the consortium led by Sino Europe could remain unknown even after signing the final contract for the sale of 99.93% of the club’s shares, reports Repubblica.
The lack of disclosure could concern some investors of semi-public Haixia Fund, the financial vehicle at the center of the operation.
According to sources close to AC Milan buyers, as noted by Repubblica, components of a fund should not necessarily disclose their names despite the Italian Football Federation’s legislation obliges to notify detailed information within 30 days of change of ownership of a club in Serie A to the League Committee.
How the FIGC regulation on transparency works
This regulation, which was issued after the arrest of Parma’s President Giampietro Manenti to prevent money laundering by investing in professional soccer teams, establishes that anyone who purchases 10% or higher in ownership of a club (it is the case of Sino-Europe that will acquire 99.93% of Milan) must submit to the League Committee a statement from at least one primary national and / or foreign credit institution, with which business relations have lasted at least one year, attesting that the buyer has “a good financial standing” and that benefits from “esteem and appraisal from financial and economic operators”, and also that, under the banking profile, is creditworthy and has always met its commitments regularly and with punctuality.
Moreover, the bank-sponsor must also certify that the purchaser is in possession of the financial capacity to meet the commitment, but above all “that the financial resources deployed in the acquisition come either from the buyer’s social-economic activity or from the availability of other legit sources properly indicated.”
This last point is the most relevant to have a full disclosure on AC Milan’s future ownership structure. If, in fact, Serie A Committee will accept to get only the required certification for the financial practice acquiring 99.93%, and will not request the details of the ultimate source of funds used for the acquisition, as required by the regulation, perplexities will continue to grow over one of the largest M&A deals in 2016 and in Italian football in general.