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Chinese firm acquires Inter Milan

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Italian football giant Internazionale Milan has been acquired by Chinese firm Suning Holding in a move which indicates the nation’s growing interest in owning football assets.

Suning – which also owns Chinese Superleague club Jiangsu Suning FC – has purchased a 70 per cent majority stake in the 2010 Champions League winners for around €270m (£212.3m, US$306.6m), with Erick Thohir’s International Sports Capital becoming the sole minority shareholder.

Thohir will retain his position as president, with former owner Massimo Moratti exiting the club. The Indonesian said the deal was a “game changer” for Inter.

Thohir added: “The popularity of the game, particularly in Asia and China, is going through a period of massive growth. This agreement will allow us to get much closer to our huge fanbase in China and the Asia Pacific region.”

Suning and Thohir have set the target of “re-establishing” Inter among the top-10 clubs in football and qualifying for European competition regularly.

Since current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho led the club to a historic league, cup and Champions League treble in 2010, Inter has struggled for success, falling behind domestic rival Juventus and failing to compete effectively in European competition.

Chair of Suning, Zhang Jindong, said the move was part of the firm’s “development strategy” to become a “household name within Europe”. It has already invested heavily in Jiangsu Suning FC, bringing in top level players such as Brazilians Alex Teixeira and Ramires for large transfer fees.

Suning also become the latest Chinese company to purchase a stake in a European football club.

Last December, Chinese firms CMC and Citic Capital acquired a 13 per cent stake in Manchester City parent company City Football Group. In Spain, Rastar Group took 56 per cent equity in Espanyol, while giant conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group bought 20 per cent of Atletico Madrid. In addition, lighting manufacturer Ledus acquired 100 per cent of French Ligue 2 club Sochaux.

Chinese businessman Dr Tony Jiantong Xia also bought a controlling stake in Aston Villa Football Club last month.

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Italian football giant Internazionale Milan has been acquired by Chinese firm Suning Holding in a move which indicates the nation’s growing interest in owning football assets.
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