From Mr Bee to Mr Li – What the new owners will bring to AC Milan
After a drawn-out process, AC Milan have finally been sold by Silvio Berlusconi, but what can the Rossoneri expect from their new ownership?
It is finally finished. At 2.04pm on April 13 one of the longest takeover sagas in football history was completed at last.
In the end, it saw outgoing president Silvio Berlusconi finally relinquish his hold on AC Milan, moving aside to be replaced by Li Yonghong and his group Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.
The process certainly hasn’t been a smooth or uncomplicated one, dating back to the days of mystery man Bee Taechaubol and his failed attempt to take the reins at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
However, the seemingly endless process has come to an end and Milan are now under Chinese control with Fininvest managing director Danilo Pellegrino signing over the transfer of ownership.
Little is truly known about Yonghong, the new face of power at the Diavolo after Berlusconi’s 31-year spell came to an end and he is a man who does like to guard his privacy – something that wasn’t always the case with the previous man in charge.
Il Sole 24 report that Yonghong has assets of €500 million, much of which is used as collateral, invested in Milan and has made much of his fortune in the construction and packaging world.
New China Building, Zhuhai Zhongfu Enterprise and Zhuhai Zhongfu Plastic Bottling Ltd are just some of the companies with whom he has been directly involved with throughout the years.
He is not a prominent figure in China, although he did have to publicly deny any involvement in a scam in the 1990s which benefited 18,000 savings accounts.
Most recently, in 2012, the Shanghai Stock Exchange hit him with an €80,000 fine for the violation of specific rules on public communications but he has largely been a background figure in the Chinese business world.
If his early dealings in Milan are any evidence, that could be a sign of things to come. Upon his arrival in the city on Wednesday, he immediately shunned any kind of public attention.
He attended a meeting at the Gattai, Minoli, Agnostelli and Partners law firm and didn’t attend the signing of the papers on Thursday, instead leaving it to his right-hand man Han Li, along with Marco Fassone.
That would suggest that unlike Berlusconi, this will not be a man who will actively seek to hog the headlines during his spell with Milan, either in a positive or negative manner.
“I want to thank Berlusconi and Fininvest for their trust and the fans for their patience,” he stated. “Now we can build for the future and step by step, put this club back on top of world football.”
That is no mean feat to say the least given the Rossoneri’s current predicament. Such statements do show that the new ownership are aware of how big a global brand Milan are.
But to put them back on top of Italian football, let alone the world game, will require a lot more of the patience fans have shown since Fininvest first confirmed that they were actively seeking investment in February of 2015.
On top of that and most importantly, it will take a great deal of investment. If the roller coaster that has been the Rossoneri sale has taught us anything in the last 25 months, it is that nothing can be taken for granted or presumed.
It will be very much be a case of eagerly waiting to see exactly what it is Yonghong has to offer because it is impossible to second guess or predict what lies in store for a club who are a long way from the dynasty which lifted its seventh European Cup just 10 years ago.