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Wed 2 Apr 2014 06:43 PM

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Berlusconi family seeks MidEast talks on AC Milan stake sale

Former Italian Premier's daughter to travel to region as club owners look for partners

Berlusconi family seeks MidEast talks on AC Milan stake sale
AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi. (Getty Images)

The family of former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is considering selling a stake of between 20 and 30 percent in AC Milan, the soccer club he bought in 1986 and took to the top of the European game.

The club's co-chief executive Barbara Berlusconi, a daughter of the media magnate, told a news conference on Wednesday the family was seeking partners and she would travel to the Middle East and later to the United States as part of the process.

Rumours have been circulating for some time that the Berlusconis were seeking new investment in a team that is struggling in mid-table in Serie A.

Italian soccer has been hit hard by hooliganism and match-fixing scandals and has not seen the kind of heavy foreign investment that clubs in England and France have enjoyed.

However, there are signs that could be changing.

Indonesian business tycoon Erick Thohir and partners bought a majority stake in Milan's city rivals Inter last November in a deal that reportedly valued the club at about 350 million euros ($483 million).

Fellow Italian club AS Roma is controlled by an American investment group.

After buying AC Milan, Berlusconi quickly turned them into the top team in Italy and Europe, winning Serie A in 1988 and the European Cup, the forerunner to the Champions League, in the following two seasons.

Milan's success helped Berlusconi build his profile and launch into politics in the 1990s with a party with the soccer-inspired name "Forza Italia" (Go Italy).

Milan have not won Serie A since 2011 and have seen some of their best players depart in recent seasons, showing how the balance of financial power in European soccer has swung away from Italy.

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