MILAN (Reuters) - U.S. private equity fund Elliott has offered to provide additional financial support to Italian soccer club AC Milan this season by extending liquidity to its Chinese owner, a source close to the matter said.
Businessman Li Yonghong has been making capital injections into the storied club, under the terms of his acquisition of AC Milan last year, and must inject around 30-35 million euros ($37- $43 million) by June.
The source, who declined to be named, said Elliott could provide Li with special purpose liquidity for AC Milan. The source did not give further details.
Elliott gave Li’s vehicle, Rossoneri Sport Investment Luxembourg, a 180 million euro lifeline last year to complete the purchase of AC Milan, which is trying to emerge from years of losses with a turnaround plan.
Also last year, Elliott directly lent AC Milan 128 million euros to fund the acquisition of players and repay bank debt. All of Elliott’s loans carry an average interest rate of just below 10 percent, repayable by October this year.
If Li defaults or misses payments to AC Milan, Elliott could take over the club. Elliott’s latest offer to extend further financial support appears aimed at preserving the club’s value.
Reuters could not reach Li directly for comment. Attempts to reach him through the club have been unsuccessful. The club did not respond to a request for a comment.
In February, Li said his finances were sound and called recent press reports about financial difficulties irresponsible.
AC Milan recently picked Bank of America Merrill Lynch to find lenders interested in refinancing both the club and Li’s vehicle, but no deal has been signed yet.
A lack of sufficient financial guarantees are the main obstacles to sealing a refinancing deal for Li’s vehicle, two sources close the matter said.
($1 = 0.8145 euros)
Editing by Mark Bendeich