Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus believes Steven Zhang is a fantastic guy but that it is time to sell Inter Milan.

The Finnish businessman, who interviewed in September 2023, argues Suning have done a fantastic job.

However, the time is now right for Suning to sell Inter, he told The Italian Football Podcast.

“”As a fan myself, but as a fan is not just a fan but has a capability to build a consortium that can buy the club, my answer is yes.

“I think it is time for Suning to sell the club. It is kicking the can down the road.

“”The debts are already very large, and they will become even larger because if the OakTree loan is replaced by a new loan.

“Because there is a massive interest rate that has ballooned the loan quite significantly.

Thomas Zilliacus – “Steven Zhang An Amazing Guy But Time To Sell Inter Milan”

Zilliacus continued how he is full of admiration for Steven Zhang. The Finnish entrepreneur believes that what Suning have done at Inter is fantastic.

However, given the club’s debts, the OakTree loan that is rumoured of being refinanced as well as Zhang not being in Italy, suggests it’s time to move on.

“I always had a great communication with Steven Zhang. The first time we met, which was in May last year, I felt immediately a great liking for him.

“”I think he’s an amazing guy. He came to Milano at the age of 26 without any background in football.

“And he managed to get Inter’s big organization with many senior people who had been in football for many years, to listen to him.

“I think he did a fantastic job, I have full admiration for him.

“”At the same time, although I have no idea what the reasons for this are, but I don’t really see it as very normal that the chairman of the club hasn’t been in Italy for close to a year.

“I don’t think this is how the club should be run. I think it requires someone who is present all the time.”

Thomas Zilliacus No Longer In Race To Buy Inter Milan From Zhang Family

Zilliacus then explained the reasons why he has pulled out of the race to buy Inter Milan from Suning.

The Finnish entrepreneur did not want to pull out of the talks but was forced to do so. This after Interpol put out a Red Notice following a request from the Singapore police.

“No, I’m not out of the race to buy Inter because I want to be out of the race.

“One of the byproduct of all this negative publicity of these ridiculous stories about Interpol, my arrest and this and that, is that of course it affects people who reads it.

“So, the result was, some investors in the consortium that I had put together withdrew and told me that until this thing is settled withdrew.

“I had to therefore announce that I could no longer proceed because of these false claims, because as I explained earlier they are false claims.

“So I had to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. It was a storm in a waterglass.

“But yes until this situation has been resolved Im not involved in buying any club.”

Thomas Zilliacus – “Advanced Talks To Buy Inter Milan From Suning In February”

Zilliacus then revealed that talks to buy Inter Milan from the Zhang family were at a very advanced stage.

According to Zilliacus, the negotiations were very close to being concluded in February of 2024. However, everything the deal fell apart when news of the Interpol Red Notice broke.

“The talks were very advanced. When this news broke [Singapore case] in late February, we were very, very close to I think wrapping the whole thing up.

“We had committed investors, we made a first bid already in July, the discussions started in May.

“We made a second bid in November because we wanted to update the July bid on the basis of certain things that had happened in between.

“But it was a very serious bid, it was a complete bid, I had as my advisors one of the largest investment banks in the world with offices in every major financial centre in the world.

“Including in Milan. A name that everybody knows but I can’t mention who for contractual reasons.

“However, they [investment bank] had a big team working on this together with me.

“On top of that we had lawyers, advisers from Italy, auditors, people who had been on the board of Inter.

“People who really knew the ins and outs of everything. So we had a very good and detailed bid.

“It was a bid for 100% of the ownership of the club. We would never have made a bit if we hadn’t been told that they had a serious interest to sell.

“We know more or less what the expectation was with regards to the evaluation of the club.”

Two Of The Biggest Investment Banks In The World Involved

Zilliacus revealed that he had acquired the services of two of the biggest investment banks in the world as an adviser to help complete the deal.

“But everything else had been done, the due diligence had been done, we had a complete and concrete offer for the club with an exact value that we were prepared to pay.

“Everything was there. We never came that far with Manchester United but with Inter it was a completely different situation as we had time to prepare.

“Having one of the biggest investment banks as an adviser in the world involved, with all their resources really helped.

“But I cannot say that Suning was willing to accept our offer because I don’t know that. What I can say is that the offer was similar or very close to what was expected.

“We appointed another US and New York based investment bank specialized in American fundraising primarily but also with a global network.

“I am again not allowed to say who it was, but these two investment banks jointly brought in big private equity firms and together with my network we had a network similar to RedBird to move forward to purchase and invest in the club.

“But it all fell apart due to these false claims that came out of Singapore.”

Thomas Zilliacus – “Understand Criticism From Inter Fans But Buying A Football Club Not Like Buying Food At The Supermarket”

Zilliacus then continued by addressing criticism aimed at him from Inter Milan fans and Italian journalists alike on social media.

Many people have voiced their concerns that he isn’t serious about buying Inter and that he was just all talk on social media.

However, Zilliacus refutes this adding that he does understand where this criticism comes from.

“I am grateful that you ask me this because this is complete nonsense.

“Yes, I am active on social media because that is how I see the world. I like to communicate especially with the fanbase.

“Because without the fans there is no club. And with the fans the club can Literally be self-sustaining as I have explained here earlier.

“I want to communicate with the fans, I want to let the fans know what I think and what I want to do.

“And I have seen the same comments that you are referring to that “oh do something, buy the club.

“But buying a football club isn’t like going to the supermarket to buy food. The food is there on the shelf and you pay the price the food is yours [laughs].

“With a football club it is completely different. But we couldn’t simply tell what was happening behind the scenes on social media or anywhere else.

“But I can assure you that one of the biggest investment banks in the world wouldn’t commit their resources to something that wasn’t dead serious.”

Thomas Zilliacus – “Inter Milan Fans Have A Right To Be Critical Of Me”

Zilliacus understands why he has received criticism from Inter Milan fans as well as journalists.  However, he argues that people don’t have and can’t have the full picture due to NDA’s signed.

Therefore, it is very difficult for people to make informed assertions on what is actually happening.

“”However, I absolutely have no problem with fans being critical and voicing their concerns.

“And again I go back to what I said before, these are people who live and breathe and love the club 24/7. The club is maybe the most important thing in their lives.

“So, for them to see, first of all the club they love so much maybe not being managed the way they would like to see it be managed, and secondly, then to have someone talking on social media about what he wants to do, the natural reaction is of course ‘come on do something, don’t just talk’.

“But again that is because these people arent privy to how the process is ongoing all the time nor do they understand how complicated it is to go from start to finish.

“However I fully understand them and have no problems with them being critical.”

Thomas Zilliacus – Manchester United Still In Glazers Hands

Zilliacus was also involved in a failed takeover bid to buy Manchester United from the Glazers.

However, he joined that process really late on. But he believes Sir Jim Ratcliffe will do a good job even though the Glazers still control 75% of the club.

“It’s a good question if Man United are now in good hands. I would argue that Man United are still in the same hands as before.

“Which is the Glazers hands as they own 75% and Sir Jim Ratcliffe owns 25%.

“My understanding is from what I have read in the media is that Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been given if not full authority, then the main authority on the football side of things, which I think is a positive thing.

“He is as far as I know a lifelong fan of the club, he lives in England, he understands football.

“So, his ability to build the club and to help the club in a way that the fans like is of course far superior to the Glazers.

“They apparently never really took any interest in the club and its well-being seeing it only as a financial investment.”