Indonesia tycoon 'set to take 70% in Inter Milan'
Erick Thohir at a press conference in Washington DC last year by DC United, of which he is co-owner. Inter Milan are edging closer to a deal that would see the Indonesian tycoon acquire a majority share in the Serie A giants, reports said Thursday.
Thohir has been linked with a takeover of the Italian club since last season when Inter finished in a disappointing ninth place and failed to qualify for European competition in the process.
Inter president Massimo Moratti and Thohir met twice, in May and June, this year but failed to reach agreement.
Reports in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday said the pair had held talks in Paris this week and had made "significant progress" towards signing a deal that would see Thohir acquire a majority 70% stake.
Neither Moratti, who made his fortune in the oil industry, nor Thohir were quoted in the report.
A later report on the website of the Italian sports daily said Moratti and Thohir "had reached an agreement" and that both parties would "sign the contract" next week.
The report added that, in accordance with rules governing such transactions, no official statement would be made until at least 20 days after the parties had signed official documents.
If confirmed, Inter are in line for a cash injection that could boost their bid to build a new stadium and create a winning team which they can then market around the world.
Inter, the last Italian side to win the Champions League in 2010 when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho, are reported to be desperate for a move away from the San Siro ground they share with city rivals AC Milan.
But Moratti also wants the club to take advantage of ripe markets in Asia which English Premier League giants like Manchester United have exploited.
Moratti told media last month he was still keen to attract investment that would help further promote the club worldwide.
"As a club Inter needs to expand and break into new markets. And with Erick (on board) this would be possible," Moratti was quoted as saying on August 3.
Following their dismal 2012-2013 season, Inter's value has dipped to an estimated 316m euros (401m US dollars), according to Forbes business group which rates the Nerazzurri as the 14th most valuable club in the world.
Forbes said over half of that sum, 218m euros, is generated by broadcasting revenues with the club's commercial and brand departments attracting 87m and 51m euros respectively. The remainder, 45m euros, comes from matchday revenues.
Gazzetta's newspaper report on Thursday claimed that Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, already boasted 11 million Inter fans.
Gazzetta quoted unnamed sources close to Thohir as saying this week: "Erick is very excited."
If successful, Thohir would become the first Asian owner of a major Serie A club but he is no stranger to investing in major sports.
The son of Teddy Thohir, co-owner of the automotive group Astra International, the 43-year-old Thohir owns shares in basketball side, the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as being a majority shareholder in DC United, a Major League Soccer team.
A regular user of Twitter, Thohir had yet to post any message supporting the reports on his official page.
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