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AS Roma In Talks Over Sale To US Billionaire

AS Roma is in talks with a group led by U.S. billionaire Dan Friedkin looking to buy the Italian Serie A football club, it said on Monday.

Europe’s top football clubs have attracted big money from some of the world’s richest investors over the past decade.

This has come to be as the game draws more fans and television revenue in lucrative markets such as Asia, the U.S. and the Middle East.

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The proposed deal is the latest football foray by a U.S. investor after Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi-controlled owner.

In November, the owner had sold a 500 million dollars stake in the English club to U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake.

In June, American billionaire Rocco Commisso bought Serie A club ACF Fiorentina from Italy’s Della Valle family for a reported sum of about 160 million euros.

Media reports said Friedkin would pay between 750 million and 790 million euros (640.63- 674.19 million pounds), including debt, for an 82 per cent stake in AS Roma.

The club made a loss of 24 million euros on revenue of 233 million euros in the financial year to June 30.

Net debt amounted to 221 million euros.

Shares in AS Roma shot up more than nine percent at the open in Milan on Monday but pared gains to stand 4.4 percent up at 1226 GMT.

“Any deal with Group Friedkin is subject to the positive outcome of the legal due diligence process on the AS Roma group,” the club said in a statement.

AS Roma last changed hands in 2012 when it was taken over by a group of U.S. investors led by James Pallotta, who became the club’s president.

Pallotta, a U.S. businessman of Italian descent, failed to revive the fortunes of the club, which won the last of its three Serie A titles in 2001.

AS Roma idol Francesco Totti, a former captain of the club who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, left as technical director in June.

He left complaining he had never been given a proper role during his two years on the management team and had been excluded from key decisions.

Totti said he would be ready to return to the club if Pallotta left.

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Having missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification after finishing sixth in Serie A last season, when Juventus won their eighth consecutive title, AS Roma are in the second-tier Europa League.

They have reached the knockout stages and next play Belgian side KAA Gent for a place in the last 16.

AS Roma’s current owners have been trying to sell the club for a while.

They have been holding talks with various potential buyers amid growing frustration with local authorities over a stalled project to build a new stadium.

Friedkin is chairman and CEO of the eponymous group with assets ranging from luxury resorts to one of the world’s largest independent Toyota distributors.

They serve 150 dealerships in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

Reuters was unable to reach the Friedkin group for immediate comment.



About Ademola Aderele

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