Berlusconi’s AC Milan Chinese Buyer Said to Review Delay to 2017

(Bloomberg) -- The Chinese investor group that’s agreed to buy the AC Milan soccer club is discussing with former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s holding company a delay of the purchase to 2017 because it’s still waiting for authorization from Chinese authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Advisers for Berlusconi’s Fininvest SpA and the Chinese group Sino-Europe Sports Investment are meeting Friday in Milan to review the sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The payment of an additional non-refundable deposit of as much as 100 million euros ($107 million) to delay the closing to early next year is among the options under discussion, they said.

No final decision has been taken because Sino-Europe is still pushing to get approval to transfer funds by the Dec. 13 closing date. Fininvest and Sino-Europe declined to comment.

Fininvest agreed in August to sell the team to a group of little-known Chinese investors for 740 million euros including debt. The Chinese group, which made an initial deposit of 100 million euros, didn’t have all the financing in place when it agreed to purchase the Italian club, people familiar with the matter said in September. The group led by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong plans to reveal the full list of its investors, which has changed several times since negotiations started, to Fininvest as early as Friday, the people said.

The purchase agreement also includes a requirement to provide another 350 million euros of funding to AC Milan over a three-year period. Li’s group allegedly provided a false bank report during its initial deal negotiations, according to a statement from the lender whose  name appears on the documents. A spokesman for Sino-Europe said Sept. 23 that speculation about fake documents is “groundless" and that the group was considering legal action.

Li’s group would consider building a new stadium as part of its expansion plans, people with knowledge of the matter said in September. The consortium has been telling potential partners they could earn outsized returns if AC Milan eventually lists on a Chinese stock exchange, where companies trade at a premium to Western markets, according to those people.