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RedBird Capital Partners, the US-based private equity firm, has taken control of Italian Serie A soccer champions AC Milan in a deal that values the club at €1.2 billion ($1.28 billion), it has today (June 1) been announced.

The deal, which has been conducted by RedBird with the club’s current owners Elliott Advisors, will see a transition take place over the next few months before the new ownership structure is firmly in place by no later than September this year, in time for the start of the 2022-23 season.

Elliott will retain a “minority financial interest” in the club post-takeover, as well as seats on the board of directors. The deal, both sides have said, will “continue the progress made under Elliott’s stewardship over the last four years.”

RedBird has said its priority is to “work with the club’s sporting and management teams to continue Milan’s journey back to the summit of world soccer.”

It has cited its own “experience in operating and building global sports businesses” as a key component of achieving this goal.

RedBird stole a march on Bahrain-based asset management firm Investcorp, which was given an exclusive negotiating window to agree a deal to purchase Milan in late April.

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However, that exclusive period ended without an agreement being reached which allowed RedBird to step in and hijack the deal.

Gerry Cardinale, founder and managing partner at RedBird, said: “I want to thank the Elliott team for the tremendous work they have done over the last four years in rebuilding Milan and returning it to its rightful place at the top of Serie A.

“RedBird’s investment philosophy and track record in team ownership has shown that soccer clubs can be successful on the pitch and sustainable off it – we are looking forward to a long term partnership with the club, its management team, and fans around the world to keep propelling Milan in the years to come.”

Gordon Singer, Elliott’s managing partner, added: “When Elliott acquired AC Milan in 2018, we inherited a club with a tremendous history, but with serious financial problems and a mediocre sporting performance. Our plan was simple: to create financial stability, and to return AC Milan to where it belongs in European football. Today, I believe we have accomplished both.”

Milan won their first Serie A title in over a decade in late May, finishing ahead of cross-city rivals Inter Milan.

The acquisition of one of Italy’s biggest clubs and reigning champions will significantly strengthen RedBird’s growing sports portfolio.

The firm has stepped up its presence in the soccer market in recent years and notably holds a stake in English Premier League giants Liverpool after acquiring a 10% share in the team’s owners Fenway Sports Group last year for around $750 million.

RedBird also acquired French club Toulouse in 2020.

Elliott, meanwhile, has been the owner of Milan since 2018, having taken over a year after former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi relinquished control of the club.

Nine of the 20 Serie A teams, including Milan, are now owned by foreign investors, with Inter under the control of the Chinese corporation Suning Group.