The Chinese company behind the $780 million purchase of A.C. Milan is registered at a drab office block outside Shanghai, but when Reuters went to investigate, it turned out the offices don’t actually exist. Ryan Brooks reports.
AC Milan is one of the world’s most prestigious soccer clubs. And this is apparently the headquarters of the mysterious Chinese group that wants to buy it. Sino Europe Sports is the name behind an 800 million dollar bid for Italian giants AC Milan. Registered at a nondescript address two hours outside of Shanghai.
Reuters correspondent Adam Jourdan traveled there to try and find out more about the company behind the bid.
But that was no simple task.
“You have this web- this tangled web of shell companies, which all seem to point back to one place, which is this tower block here right behind me. So we’ve wondered around the offices, we’ve spoken to people here, and we’ve looked for the particular office numbers that they have in their various official and publicly available filings. Now, we haven’t been able to find any of these offices. And when you look at the displays – the numbers for each floor – you actually realize that the numbers listed mostly don’t really exist, it doesn’t go up that high on any of the floors.”
It may not be clear where Sino Europe Sports is actually based. But what is clear is the deal has been repeatedly delayed. The company keeps asking for financial extensions. Reports saying Milan has a deadline of early April to pay the latest installment.
“One of the big questions over this deal is what is holding it up? Now in soccer and in sport, in entertainment and beyond, there are concerns currently that investors here in China are having more difficulty getting money out of the country, amid a start of a crackdown on capital flight by Beijing. And so, one of the big question marks here is what’s going on? is it that the government support that was there before for this sort of drive, this sort of overseas push, the high-profile investment into soccer is no longer there? Or is it that the main investors are now really struggling to get the money that they promised, and to firm up and close this deal.”