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The beautiful game: Cleary advises Inter Milan on sale of 70% stake to Indonesian tycoons

One of Italy’s most successful football teams, Inter Milan, has turned to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton as it becomes the latest European football club to be taken over by foreign investors.

The club has sold a 70% stake to International Sports Capital (ISC), which is indirectly owned by Indonesian billionaire Erick Thohir and prominent Indonesian investors Rosan Roeslani and Handy Soetedjo.

Cleary’s Milan-based team advised the club and its majority shareholder, Internazionale Holding on the transaction. The team was led by corporate heavyweight Roberto Casati, who was instrumental in bulking up Cleary’s Italian presence when he joined from Allen & Overy (A&0) in 2004. Casati, who was A&O’s senior partner in Italy and one of the best known M&A lawyers in the country, was the first Cleary partner to be based full-time in Milan.

ISC, meanwhile, turned to rival US heavyweight Jones Day. The team was led by Marco Lombardi, a corporate tax partner who advises on the tax implications of international transactions. The two sides had been negotiating for some time, amid efforts by the club to bring in fresh capital.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed, although various reported estimates place it at somewhere between €250-300m.

Foreign investment in football is now the norm and this latest deal is by no means the first into a Serie A club. In 2002, the Libyan Foreign Investment Company purchased 5% of another legend of Italian football, Juventus, while in 2011 a consortium led by US private equity investor Thomas DiBenedetto became the first foreign owner of an Italian top league football club, after buying a controlling stake in AS Roma.

In the UK domestic league, Squire Saunders advised Shahid Khan when he purchased Fulham FC in its entirety in July.