BOSTON - A newly constituted company
led by United States businessman Thomas DiBenedetto said on
Friday that it has sealed a deal to buy control of Italian
football club AS Roma, subject to regulatory approval.
The announcement ends years of takeover speculation
surrounding the indebted Italian club which is now poised to
become the only Serie A side with foreign ownership, unlike the
much courted English Premier League.
"Good things don't come easy," Di Benedetto told a news
conference at a law firm in Boston. "I never felt that I would
give up on the quest for this team."
The new consortium, which is 60 percent owned by DiBenedetto and 40 percent owned by Italian bank UniCredit, bought a 67 percent stake of Roma at an agreed price
of 70.3 million euros.
Of that, 60.3 million relates to the purchase of shares at
a price of 0.6781 euro each. The stake was bought from
Italpetroli, which controlled Roma.
Under Italian law, the consortium would need to make a
public offer to purchase the remaining 33 percent stake in the
DiBenedetto, who has been a partner of New England Sports
Ventures which owns the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball
team and English Premier League side Liverpool, wants to
attract more local players to Roma.
"If you look around professional football today, there are a
number of players who grew up in greater Rome," DiBenedetto
said during a news conference held jointly with UniCredit chief
operating officer Paolo Fiorientino.
"It's our goal to have more of them playing for AS Roma. I
think we will put in place the people who will make it
attractive for these young men to sign with us."
"Our hope and our objective is to be as successful in Rome
as Mr. Berlusconi was with his team in Milan," DiBenedetto
added, referring to AC Milan owner and Italian prime minister
Cash-strapped Roma are now managed by former player
Vincenzo Montella following coach Claudio Ranieri's resignation
The Italian club lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions
league last 16 last month and are sixth in Serie A, three
points behind Udinese, having been runners-up last season.
Foreign investors had previously snubbed Serie A and
instead were drawn to the more lucrative English Premier League
where top stadiums are often full and merchandise sales
significantly boost profits, unlike in Italy.
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