Chinese retailer Suning Holdings Group have announced they will take a majority control of Serie A giants Inter.
The group have purchased a 70 per cent stake in the club from Erick Thohir, who became majority shareholder and president of Inter in 2013, for a reported fee of €270million.
Suning’s deal was announced on Sunday via the social media pages of Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning, before confirmation of the deal came at a news conference held on Monday.
Zhang Jidong, chairman of the Suning group, welcomed the deal as a watershed moment for a growing football market in China.
“Ours is an international business and our brand will soon be big in Europe, too. Now we have an alliance with an international and European top club. Football is growing at an incredible rate in China and the acquisition of Inter is a strategic move,” he said.
“I’m convinced that undertaking Inter, with its glorious history, is a mission, a responsibility. I’ve become passionate about Inter, being part of the club is a huge responsibility. I thank Thohir for choosing us.”
Thohir, who will stay on as president for the immediate future, and vice-president Javier Zanetti were among the Inter directors attending the event in Jiangsu.
Honorary president Massimo Moratti, who ran the club between 1995 and 2013 and retained a minority stake following Thohir’s takeover, is expected to step aside from any official involvement in the running of the club.
Former Inter CEO Ernesto Paolillo branded Thohir’s spell in charge as “a failure”, with the club having failed to win a trophy or qualify for the Champions League in that time.
“It was inevitable Thohir would sell as his project has been a failure,” he told Radio 24. “The club’s budget was in the red. My vote for his management is a four out of 10.”
Inter are now the third club in Serie A to fall under foreign ownership, with Roma and Bologna controlled by respective American and Canadian groups.
AC Milan are expected to conclude a deal to sell a majority stake to a Chinese consortium in the coming weeks following negotiations with president Silvio Berlusconi.
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