Thursday, February 2

Soccer-Lille owner seeks to win control of Serie A’s Sampdoria, sources say

Article content

MILAN — Luxembourg-based investment firm Merlyn Partners is seeking to secure control of Sampdoria in what would be the latest takeover of an Italian soccer club by a private equity investor, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Currently second-bottom in Serie A, Sampdoria enjoyed their heyday in the early 1990s when the Genoa-based club secured their sole national title with a team led by outstanding strike partnership Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini.

Article content

Hard-hit by the pandemic, loss-making Sampdoria have been for sale since the start of the year as part of a process aimed at repaying creditors of the club’s former chairman and owner, who has been involved in a case of alleged bankruptcy.

A trustee has been looking after the sale process of the club for a year, with investment bank Lazard acting as advisor but no deal has been struck so far.

Merlyn Partners, which bought French top flight club Lille two years ago, submitted a binding proposal for Sampdoria on Saturday ahead of a shareholder meeting to vote on a capital hike to shore up the club’s ailing finances, the people said.

The fund, founded by former JP Morgan banker Alessandro Barnaba, is offering to fully subscribe the 30 million-euro cash call and to inject an additional 20 million euros ($21 million) into the club.

Article content

The sources said Merlyn Partners offer is set to expire on Wednesday, when a shareholder meeting to vote on the capital hike was initially scheduled, before the club announced a postponement of the meeting to Dec.19.

Sampdoria had no comment.

Cash-strapped Sampdoria reported a full-year loss of 24 million euros last year, while net financial debt stood at 90.4 million euros as of Dec 31, 2021.

In 2021, Sampdoria city rivals Genoa were bought by Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners to join a string of Italian soccer clubs owned by US investors. ($1 = 0.9493 euros) (Reporting by Elvira Pollina Editing by Keith Weir)