It’s been two and a half years since Erick Thohir bought Inter MIlan and it is fair to say that the deal has not worked out the way that he envisioned.
The club is still hemorrhaging money, forcing him to sell shares and seek new investors and with the new Pirelli deal just about the only silver lining of his term. And even that was disappointing compared to what other big teams in Europe are getting for shirt sponsorship.
Thohir initially spent €75 million to acquire 70% of the club, with Moratti keeping 29.5% and the remainder going to smaller minority shareholders. Then last summer Thohir was forced to take out €108m in loans as the club attempted to reach the financial windfall that is the Champions League.
Inter are expected to lose about €50m this season, which is why the Champions League revenue that comes with qualification is so important.
Inter have also being buying players with payments due in the future and their is financial cliff looming in the future unless Inter get some outside investment, as it is clear that Thohir is unable or unwilling to put more money into the club.
Which is why Thohir has approached investment bank Goldman Sachs find new investors. ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned chemical company, are rumoured to to be one such potential future partner.
Inter have released an official statement denying reports that Thohir is looking to sell his shares in the Nerazzurri.
“FC Internazionale categorically denies that the president and majority shareholder Erick Thohir is considering the possibility of selling his 70 per cent stake or a part of it,” a statement read on Inter’s official website.
“As part of a well-planned mid- to long-term business strategy, the club has asked Goldman Sachs to explore the possibility of identifying potential future commercial partners in Asia. This is a normal procedure given the huge growth of investment in sports, and football in particular, in Asia and China specifically.”
“The club remains committed to a return to Europe, a clear target to compete at the highest levels of club competitions.”
Here is the challenge for Thohir. If he wants to attract outside investment, he has to sell part of the club thereby reducing his 70% stake. There is no way around that.
In a best case scenario, Thohir probably wants to pay off the €108m loans, cover the €50m loss for this season and get another €40m for working capital. So he needs €200m in new investment.
Can he get that for less than 19% of the club, because if he has to sell more than 19%, he could lose control of the club because he no longer will be the majority shareholder?