Inter Milan announce sale of club to China's Suning Holdings Group
Inter Milan have announced the completion of Chinese corporation Suning Holdings Group's purchase of the Serie A club at a news conference in Nanjing.
The Chinese retail giant has acquired a 68.55 percent majority share of the Nerazzurri, becoming the first Chinese owners of a Serie A club.
Suning Holdings Group chairman Zhang Jindong said he was "excited and thrilled" to be taking control of a club with such a history.
He said: "Suning Holdings Group entered the world of football only a year ago, and now we are in alliance with one of Europe's top clubs.
"Acquiring Inter Milan is part of Suning's strategy in becoming a leader in the sports industry in the coming five years. We will make Inter more internationalised. We are going to make Inter even stronger. With Suning, Inter has an even brighter future. It will be the club where the world's stars will want to play and where the best young players will emerge."
In a statement on the Italian club's website it was confirmed that Massimo Moratti, who sold 70 percent of the club to Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir in November 2013, has relinquished the remainder of his 29.5 percent stake in the club and thus ceases to be a shareholder.
Thohir will retain a 30 percent stake and has welcomed the takeover as a step forward for the Italian club.
"This new partnership with Suning Holdings Group is a game changer for Inter Milan," he said. "Over the past two-and-a-half years we have been building on the existing solid base at the club and this new partnership will enable us to take the next step in the project and return Inter Milan to its rightful place in world club football.
"The popularity of the game, particularly in Asia and China, is going through a period of massive growth. This agreement with Suning Holdings Group will allow us to get much closer to our huge fan base in China and the Asia Pacific region. We are looking forward to a hugely successful partnership together."
Inter Milan have not won Serie A since 2010, when they won the Treble under Jose Mourinho's management, and they will again not be in the Champions League next season after only finishing fourth in the league last term.
They have, however, qualified for next season's Europa League but that should be just the first step on what the new owners hope will be a return to the top of the European game.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for Inter Milan to grow further in China, and China will become the second home of Inter Milan," Zhang added. "In addition, Suning's capital investment and abundant resources will enable Inter Milan to return to its glory days and become a stronger property able to attract top stars from across the globe."
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.