AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi in Sonny Wu talks over sale - report
The identity of the man interested in ending Silvio Berlusconi's 30-year ownership of AC Milan has been reported as Sonny Wu and his Golden Sand River Capital.
Wu is reported by Bloomberg to be leading a consortium which has enjoyed a lengthy exclusive period of negotiations with the Italian club, and which is expected to complete its proposed takeover of the Rossoneri imminently.
Wu's business dealings include renewable energy, with his GSR Capital group reputedly the largest providers of solar energy in Asia and Northern America, and he is reportedly close to striking an agreement with Berlusconi to take control of Milan for a reported €750 million.
Negotiations were initially scheduled to end in mid-June, but a recent heart operation for Berlusconi has seen that date repeatedly put back.
According to reports in Italy, a deal is now about to be struck, ending years of insecurity about the Rossoneri's future which has coincided with the worst three consecutive seasons on-field since Berlusconi, 79, became their major shareholder in 1985.
By being sold to Chinese investors, they would be following the example of city rivals Inter Milan, who were recently taken over by China's Suning Group.
"It's both financially smart and politically smart for a Chinese company to buy a world-famous football club," Mark Dreyer, the Beijing-based founder of industry website China Sports Insider, told Bloomberg. "We can expect more investors in China to seek opportunities to buy soccer clubs overseas in the near future."
The ongoing negotiations have had a negative impact on the club's preparations for the new season, with funds for transfers yet to be released, dependent on the outcome of talks.
Berlusconi was at a similarly advanced stage in negotiations to sell the club to Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol a year ago and he personally financed several summer transfers on the understanding that he would recoup that outlay through the sale of the club.
He is reluctant to do the same again this year, meaning Gianluca Lapadula remains the only player the Rossoneri have signed so far this summer. Milan head to the United States for a preseason tour on Friday.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.