With Roma in first place and playing some of the best football on the planet, the last two draws notwithstanding, and with plans of a new stadium looming, it's not surprising that many a shrewd investor suddenly sees a chance for profit. While it's been no secret that Roma are seeking investors for infrastructure improvements, the news that Chen Feng, head of Chinese investment group HNA, is seeking to buy out Unicredit's 20% stake in the club may muddy Roma's managerial waters a bit. Are they interested from a purely financial standpoint, or do they have their own footballing aims?
The first of what I'm sure will be dozens of links over the next several months connecting a group of Chinese investors with a possible purchase of Roman shares. This link, albeit a brief one, names the man behind the Chinese consortium, Chen Feng, head of HNA, which owns the Chinese airline Hainan Airlines....so, we're not talking about a man with small money here.
RomaNews offers some more specifics about Mr. Feng, namely the fact that this group has about €43.5 billion behind its name. While it does not appear that they're going for a full-on takeover, the reports indicate they’re looking to invest roughly €40m to buy out Unicredit’s 20% stake in the club. There does appear to be some doubt among the Chinese soccer faithful, however, to the validity of these rumors, but it appears that Feng and his group are looking to latch onto the suddenly hot Roma name and all the requisite branding and tourist opportunities.
"We are fortunate to be the stewards of a great organization that people are interested in and want to become a part of...Our goal as always is to pursue what is best for Roma. We have no special insight into UniCredit’s desire to sell its stake in Roma or its rather transparent motive for a public dialogue, so we like you will await the next news cycle to learn more" -James Pallotta.
About what you'd expect the official word to be at this point. I'm no corporate raider, but I wonder to what extent, if any, Pallotta can control to whom Unicredit sells their shares. Nevertheless, this could (obviously) have huge ramifications for the future finances of this club; stadium deals, transfer budgets, there's a lot at stake, with some still questioning if Pallotta and his crew have the wherewithal to deliver on their promises.
A more main stream, less-Roma biased look tells the same story. No one knows to whom it will be sold, but it does not appear that Unicredit is emotionally tied to their stake in Roma. I blame Rosella, she's a heartbreaker.
A quick hit of good news, it appears as though Francesco Totti is ready to ramp up his training regime. No word on an actual return, however, but at this point, its looking like the rumors of a 2014 return may be the best case scenario.
So that's the biggest news on the Roma radar at this point as we wait patiently for Monday Night Calcio against Cagliari.