RedBird Capital Partners is a New York-based private equity firm that has shown heavy interest in European football, having invested in England club Liverpool, second-tier club Toulouse, and Spanish side Malaga. Recently, the firm shifted its attention to Italy, clinching the biggest deal yet with recently crowned Serie A champions AC Milan.
The club was previously under Elliott Management, another New York investment fund, which took over after former AC Milan owner and Chinese entrepreneur Li Yonghong defaulted on €300 million of high-interest debt.
RedBird has been on the hunt for football teams in Europe for some time, with executives investing two years in looking at clubs throughout the continent. Their first project was Toulouse, a French club that recently won the second division to earn a promotion to the top flight.
The investment fund saw an opportunity when talks between Elliott Management and Bahraini investment fund Investcorp continued for months without producing a deal.
Gerry Cardinale, founder and managing partner of RedBird, swooped in with a €1.2 billion deal to acquire the club. As a result, Elliott Management was provided with €600 million of the funding and will retain a minority stake.
RedBird has plenty of plans in store for the Italian giants as the Rossoneri won their first Scudetto after eleven years under the guidance and transfer decisions of manager Stefano Piolo and technical director Paolo Maldini.
Although there were concerns regarding Maldini’s role following the takeover, Cardinale has met with the director to discuss his extension with the club.
RedBird also has plans to build a new stadium. Despite the history that comes with the San Siro, it has become a relic amid modern times where big clubs are remodeling or moving to keep up with the times to maximize revenue streams.
“A brand of this scale, like AC Milan, should have infrastructure that is indicative of its football prowess and global potential,” said Cardinale. “We’ve had a lot of experience with stadium projects in the U.S. Milan and Italy deserve a world-class stadium that houses the best of sports and entertainment on a global scale.”
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