Inter Milan have become the first Italian Serie A football team to fall under Chinese ownership after a leading electronics retailer secured a near 70 percent share in the club.
Chinese retailer Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd has bought a 68.55 percent controlling share in the San Siro club for just over $300 million. Previous owner Erick Thohir, an Indonesian businessman, will remain as president.
“This new partnership with the Suning Holdings Group means Inter are taking a revolutionary step into the future,” Thohir said.
“In the past two and a half years we have built on a solid foundation, making the club stronger.
“Now this new partnership will allow us to take a new, decisive step forward in our bid to restore Inter to their rightful place among the world’s top clubs.”
Inter have struggled in recent seasons since Jose Mourinho led them to a league, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble in 2010.
Roberto Mancini secured a fourth-place finish in 2015/16, but the ex-Manchester City boss could find himself surplus to requirements under the new regime.
Suning Holdings Group chairman Zhang Jindong said on inter.it: “This historic agreement gives Inter an opportunity to experience unprecedented growth in China, so that our country will become a second home for the Nerazzurri.
“Furthermore, Suning’s investments and resources will help Inter return to their glory days and become stronger and stronger, attracting the stars of world football.”
Suning already owns domestic club Jiangsu Suning, currently third in the Chinese Super League, but this is its first venture into sport overseas.
The company, which has annual revenues of over $20 billion, says it wants to create a global sporting “ecosystem,” including club ownership, sports media rights, player agencies, training institutions and broadcast platforms.
Chinese investors already have stakes in the English Premier League’s Manchester City and Spanish La Liga club Atletico Madrid.
MLS club New York City FC and England’s Aston Villa are others who are Chinese-owned.
Inter’s city rivals AC Milan are also reportedly in takeover talks with a Chinese consortium. Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol pulled out of a deal to buy the club in June 2015.