Two separate US bidders are in talks to acquire Italian top-tier soccer side AC Milan, according to US and Italian media reports.
According to the Associated Press news agency, the Ricketts family, owners of Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Chicago Cubs, are looking to take control of the Serie A side.
The agency reports that the Milan office of Edelman, the public relations company hired by the Ricketts, said the entire family is interested in a takeover of Milan for “a medium-to long-period investment” and wants to create “a strong bond with the city”.
Meanwhile, Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport says that Rocco Commisso, the American billionaire owner of the New York Cosmos soccer side, is already in negotiations with current Milan chairman Yonghong Li.
Gazzetta reports that Commisso is being backed by US financial services company Goldman Sachs in his approach, and says that he is “ahead of Thomas Ricketts in the Rossonero club race”.
Commisso is a prominent figure in the US soccer market. Earlier this month, media reported that Commisso had withdrawn his offer of US$500 million in funding for a revived North American Soccer League (NASL) after the US Soccer Federation refused to meet his demands.
The Cosmos played in the NASL until 2018, when the USSF refused to sanction it as a second-division league because it failed to meet certain standards.
The interest in AC Milan comes after increasing concerns over the financial stability of the Italian giants. The side qualified for the Uefa Europa League last season, but faces possible ejection from the competition by European soccer’s governing body following a breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
In April 2017, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s holding company, Fininvest, completed the sale of its 99.93 per cent stake in AC Milan to Luxembourg-based Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux, which is controlled by Li.
US private equity fund Elliott provided Rossoneri Sport with €180 million to complete the deal, as well as a further €128 million to aid investment in the playing squad, with AC Milan spending over €200 million on players in 2017 alone. The loans, with an average interest rate of just below ten per cent, are due to be repaid by October 2018.