23 October 2016
AC Milan has agreed to be sold to a Chinese consortium for 740 million euros, including debt. Photo: AC Milan
AC Milan has agreed to be sold to a Chinese consortium for 740 million euros, including debt. Photo: AC Milan

AC Milan’s Chinese buyer may have shown false bank letter

A Chinese consortium seeking to buy Italian football club AC Milan gave false bank statements during initial talks.

Bank of Jiangsu Co. blew the whistle on the group in a statement cited by Bloomberg.

Fininvest SpA, the holding company owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, agreed last month to sell the team to a group of little-known Chinese investors for 740 million euros (US$825 million), including debt.

To prove its financial strength, the consortium offered documents on what appears to be Bank of Jiangsu Co. stationery, purporting to show transaction details of a member’s corporate account, according to Bloomberg.

After reviewing the matter, Bank of Jiangsu found it had not issued any such document detailing the account’s transactions, the lender said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg inquiries.

The consortium, led by businessman Li Yonghong and known as Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co., “does not confirm it has ever sent such a document”, it said in an e-mailed statement.

“As we have already factually demonstrated, we stay committed on the closing of the deal.”

One of the purported bank reports says it was printed at 4:14 p.m. on April 25 and lists recent account activity ending with a balance of 852,468,304.56 yuan (US$128 million) on that day.

It is stamped with a red oval seal bearing the Bank of Jiangsu name.

The documents were sent to Fininvest as part of paperwork during the initial deal negotiations.

Sellers typically demand to see a potential acquirer’s source of funds before allowing the suitor to proceed with due diligence.

The final contract signed with Fininvest did not end up making reference to the many bank letters it received during the yearlong talks, the people said.

Fininvest checked the soundness of the buyers through contacts with Chinese financial institutions and it continues to work to finalize the deal by the end of the year, according to one source.

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