Redbird Capital Partners has agreed to buy Italy’s AC Milan for 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), becoming the latest in a growing number of private equity firms taking charge of Europe’s elite football teams.
US-based Redbird is acquiring a controlling stake in the seven-time European champions from hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., it said in a statement that confirmed earlier Bloomberg News reporting. Elliott, which bought AC Milan in 2018, will retain a minority interest in the club and seats on its board.
Founded by Gerald Cardinale, Redbird manages about $6 billion in assets and is a shareholder in Fenway Sports Group Holdings LLC, the owner of English Premier League football club Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox U.S. baseball team. It also holds a stake in French football team Toulouse.
“Redbird’s investment philosophy and track record in team ownership has shown that football clubs can be successful on the pitch and sustainable off it,” Cardinale said in Wednesday’s statement.
The deal continues the march of American private equity firms into European football and comes just days after the Clearlake Capital-backed takeover of EPL team Chelsea FC completed. Elsewhere, Silver Lake is one of the investors in Manchester City FC owner City Football Group, while 777 Partners is among the new wave of so-called multiclub owners with stakes in teams across the world.
Redbird beat out competition from Middle East asset manager Investcorp in the battle for AC Milan. Known as the Rossoneri, the club is one of the biggest names in European football and just won this season’s Serie A title in Italy.
“A truly historic season has ended as we all had hoped – with the long-awaited joy of a Serie A title,” Elliott said in a parting letter to AC Milan fans. “In passing on the baton to Redbird, we stressed three values: alignment of vision, continuity of purpose, and ongoing financial strength.”
The transfer of ownership is expected to complete no later than September.