American fund Oaktree takes over Serie A champion Inter after previous owners failed to repay loan

MILAN (AP) — American fund Oaktree officially became the new owner of Serie A champion Inter Milan on Wednesday, bringing an end to Suning and Steven Zhang’s eight years at the helm.

Oaktree took charge after Suning failed to meet Tuesday’s deadline of repaying a debt of nearly 400 million euros ($434 million).

That sum stems from a loan — and interest — taken out three years ago, shortly after Inter won its previous league title but also knew it was going to be hit by record losses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As of May 22, 2024, funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, LP are the owners of Inter. This follows the failure to repay the three-year loan granted by Oaktree to Inter’s holding company, having expired May 22, 2024 with an overall balance of approximately 395 million euros,” Oaktree said in a statement sent to The Associated Press and other news outlets.

The news comes just three days after Inter was presented with its 20th league title amid a party atmosphere at San Siro.

Inter becomes the seventh Serie A club under American ownership. The others are AC Milan, Atalanta, Fiorentina, Roma, Genoa and newly-promoted Parma. American-owned Serie B side Venezia is also in contention for promotion.

It had been unclear whether Oaktree would look to sell Inter, but managing director Alejandro Cano said it is looking to the long-term future.

“As new owners, we recognize our responsibility to Inter Milan’s community, history and legacy,” Cano said in a statement. “We are committed to the long-term success of the Nerazzurri and believe our ambitions for the club are united with those of its passionate fans in Italy and around the world.

“Our initial focus is operational and financial stability. We have great respect for Inter Milan’s management team and look forward to working closely with them to provide strong leadership for the club.”

In 2018, Milan was taken over by American fund Elliott Management after previous owner Li Yonghong missed the deadline to repay part of a loan.

Elliott had been expected to sell the club, with a number of parties reportedly interested, but it kept hold of it for five years before selling to RedBird Capital Partners in 2022, shortly after Milan won the Serie A title.

Chinese retail giant Suning took over Inter in 2016, ending a three-year reign by a consortium led by Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir. Massimo Moratti had been in charge since 1995 before selling a majority share of the club to Thohir.

Five years after Suning took over, Inter won its first Serie A title in more than a decade. That was Inter’s first trophy since 2011 and the first league title since 2010.

Inter went on to win two Italian Cup trophies and three Italian Super Cups as well as earning its 20th Serie A title this season — and a coveted second star on its jersey. The Nerazzurri also reached the Champions League final last year.

“Winning the second star was a pivotal moment for the club and our aim is to build on the momentum achieved on the pitch to develop a clear path for consistent growth and success,” Cano added.


AP soccer:

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