Italian Journalist Carlo Festa: “Suning Value Inter At €900m, Nerazzurri Are Not In Trouble Financially”

Italian Journalist Carlo Festa: “Suning Value Inter At €900m, Nerazzurri Are Not In Trouble Financially”
January 7, 2021 14:00
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Inter’s owners Suning would want €900m for the club if they decided to sell, according to Italian journalist Carlo Festa.

Speculation has been rife in the Italian media about the Chinese consortium’s intentions for the club since last weekend, when Corriere dello Sport reported that Nerazzurri president Steven Zhang wanted to find new owners.

Inter denied the claims as ‘baseless’ but it seems the club are at least looking for new minority shareholders, with a report yesterday stating they had begun talks with British investment firm BC Partners.

In his latest blog post for Italian business publication Il Sole 24 Ore, Festa attempted to answer some of the questions that have been asked by fans and the media in the past few days.

“Inter are not in trouble financially,” Festa assured supporters.

“Not at the moment, anyway, but in 2021 the two bonds for a total of €375 million euros (which expire in 2022) will have to be refinanced at better conditions and a capital increase will have to be made.

“This applies to all Serie A clubs in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the transfer market in January and investments going forward will need to be about prudence and saving money.”

Next he addressed whether or not Suning want to sell Inter.

“The sale of the majority stake was denied by Steven Zhang, the entrepreneur’s son,” he began.

“Therefore, the sale is not formally foreseen – but if this is the case formally, things could be different behind the scenes.

“Many observers spotted that the denial of the sale came from Steven Zhang and not from Suning Holding, who legally controls Inter.

“The impression is that within the same group and the same family there are contrasting ideas on what to do next.”

Next he discussed whether Suning wish to sell a minority stake.

“This option would be preferable, at least at the moment,” Festa continued.

“In the new restructuring, LionRock Capital could exit and Suning could sell another slice of their stake.

“A minority stake can be quite large and reach up to 49%,” he reminded readers.

He then went back to elaborate on the need for the bonds in place to be refinanced.

“Bonds, in general, are refinanced a year earlier.

“These expire in 2022 and therefore marketing among investors has already started last year.

“It will not be a difficult operation to complete as Inter will give its assets as collateral.

“It is easy to predict that the bonds will be the subject of a private placement between a few investors.

“Within the refinancing operation it is also easy to foresee that a capital increase will be decided that could be subscribed by the new investor.”

Next he addressed the question of whether Suning and LionRock will eventually sell their stakes.

“There is a negotiation but as in cases similar to this it will be necessary to see if the interests of the sellers and the buyers coincide.

“Suning have invested heavily in Inter and the valuation, including debt, would be close to €900 million. So it is not certain that the operation will go through.”

In conclusion he addressed how Alibaba’s Jack Ma fits into the whole affair.

“Jack Ma, shareholder of the giant Alibaba, has been out of circulation for some months now.

“Before disappearing, he had criticised the Chinese government and the banking system.

“Jack Ma had well-established business relationships with the Zhang family and pledged a stake in Suning Holding.

“Jack Ma followed the demise of many other Chinese managers and entrepreneurs who had somehow misaligned themselves from the government line.

“A few years ago Guo Guangchang from Fosun disappeared. Previously, Yim Fung of Guotai Securities was gone.

“All, as will probably be the case with Jack Ma, reappeared after a few months totally aligned. The only case that differs that of Lai Xiaomin, the manager of China Huarong Asset Management, which old reporters like me remember being the bank involved in Yonghong Li’s Milan affair years ago, sentenced to death for corruption.”

 

 

By Cammy Anderson

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