BC Partners Talks on Inter Milan Investment Stall

BC Partners’s negotiations on a potential investment in Italian soccer team FC Internazionale Milano SpA have stalled, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The private equity firm has paused discussions due to disagreements about Inter Milan’s valuation and uncertainty over the size of the stake on offer, according to the person. BC Partners was seeking control in any deal, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Inter Milan is leading Italy’s top soccer league, Serie A, ahead of cross-town rival AC Milan SpA and third-ranked Juventus Football Club SpA. The team’s owner, Chinese conglomerate Suning Holdings Group Co., has been considering options to improve its financial situation, including selling part or all of its roughly 70% stake in Inter Milan, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Suning bought control of Inter Milan in 2016 for about 270 million euros ($323 million) at a time when the Chinese government was encouraging acquisitions of sports teams overseas.

Inter Milan has performed well under Suning’s stewardship, coming in 14th on the latest Football Money League ranking from Deloitte Sports Business Group, which measures soccer clubs’ revenue. Still, its debt level of 411 million euros is the fourth-highest among major European teams tracked by KPMG Football Benchmark.

The situation is fluid, and talks on a potential investment by BC Partners could still resume at a later stage, the person said. Representatives for BC Partners and Inter Milan declined to comment. Suning didn’t immediately answer a call to its headquarters seeking comment outside regular business hours in Nanjing.

Two Chinese state-owned companies agreed last month to buy a 23% stake in the Chinese group’s main listed arm, online retailer Suning.com Co., for 14.8 billion yuan ($2.3 billion) in a deal set to relieve the parent company’s liquidity issues.

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