RedBird partners with Yankees owners to complete AC Milan takeover

By Thomson Reuters Aug 31, 2022 | 8:07 AM

By Elvira Pollina

MILAN (Reuters) – U.S. investment firm RedBird Capital has joined forces with the owners of the New York Yankees to complete the 1.2 billion euro ($1.2 billion) acquisition of Italian soccer champions AC Milan, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Yankee Global Enterprises (YGE), owner of the New York baseball team, will take a minority equity stake in the former European champions Milan as part of the deal to acquire the club from U.S. private equity group Elliott.

Elliott had been expected to keep a stake in Milan but will exit under the terms of the agreement, a source close to the deal said.

The same source said Elliott will provide RedBird with a vendor loan of up to 600 million euros to complete the acquisition and will have the power to appoint two board directors.

RedBird founder Gerry Cardinale, a former Goldman Sachs banker, said the aim of the new owners was “maintaining Milan’s place at the summit of European and world football”.

RedBird said it had a longstanding relationship with the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family, with whom it is a co-owner of the Yankees Entertainment Sports (YES) Network, a regional sports broadcast network.

Milan are seeking to build on the success of last season when they won the Italian Serie A title for the first time in 11 years.

Milan were a dominant force in European soccer under the previous ownership of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi but won the Champions League for the last time in 2007.

RedBird is already an investor in Fenway Sports Group, the owner of Premier League side Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox baseball team. RedBird also has a controlling stake in French soccer club Toulouse.

Italian soccer teams have become a popular target for overseas investors, attracted by cheaper valuations compared with those of England’s Premier League and rivals in major European leagues.

Elliott took over the club in 2018 when Chinese businessman Li Yonghong failed to meet some obligations linked to a financing package for the purchase of the team from Berlusconi the year before.

($1 = 0.9992 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina, Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Agnieszka Flak and Christian Radnedge)