Elliott Management has agreed to buy Italian football club AC Milan in a deal worth £1.2bn
The deal for AC Milan, which capped its turnaround under Elliott’s ownership by winning the Serie A title this season, will be announced on Wednesday, people added.
RedBird’s purchase, led by former Goldman Sachs banker Gerry Cardinale, comes less than a year after it bought a roughly 10 percent stake in Fenway Sports Group, the holding company that owns Liverpool Football Club and the Boston Red Sox of professional baseball.
For Cardinale, the deal will be his most high-profile acquisition in sport, giving his company ownership of a club that has been crowned European champions seven times.
Under the terms of the deal, Elliott will retain a minority stake in AC Milan and is likely to retain a seat on the board, people close to the club said. The sale comes after a months-long process during which Elliott identified several buyers, including Bahrain’s Investcorp.
The transaction underscores the advance of powerful private equity investors, particularly in sports and football, just days after a US consortium funded primarily by California-based Clearlake Capital agreed to launch a $2.5 billion football club.
It is also another example of American investors rushing into Italian football clubs, with Atalanta BC, ACF Fiorentina, Genoa CFC, AS Roma, Spezia Calcio, Parma Calcio and Venezia FC all having US owners or investors.
Elliott’s exit completes a turnaround project that began when it took control of the club from its former owner, Chinese businessman Li Yonghong, in 2018 after he defaulted on his debts.
Li had acquired AC Milan in 2017 from Italy’s former prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, who owned the club for decades, with more than €300m in high-yield loans from Elliott.
After taking control of Milan, Elliott – who had a fortune of 52bn – made his fortune. This was done by recruiting younger footballers who typically came into the squad with lower transfer fees and wages and are now commanding higher ratings.
Elliott spent much of his ownership trying to get government approval for a new stadium to replace San Siro, where it and rivals Inter Milan share a house. The investment was managed by Gordon Singer, son of company founder Paul Singer, and portfolio manager Giorgio Furlani.
RedBird plans to retain most of the management team built by Elliott, including AC Milan captain-turned-technical director Paolo Maldini, to build on the hedge fund group’s recent success.