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Suning Finalize Plans To Refinance The Oaktree Loan As Zilliacus Berates Steven Zhang For His Continuous Absence

Written By Onyeka Daniel

It’s looking more likely that Inter Milan owners Suning, will remain in charge of the club at least until the end of this year probably because they are on the verge of refinancing their debt to Oaktree Capital with a new loan from US-based fund PIMCO. For weeks, there has been uncertainty about how Suning will move forward with the deadline of their sizable loan from Oaktree Capital approaching.

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The Nerazzurri owners took on the loan in May of 2021.The loan was to cover operating costs at the club during a pandemic-related financial crisis. The due date for the loan from Oaktree is now exactly one month away. Suning must pay €385 million to the US-based fund (the original amount plus interest).

Should the Inter owners default, then their controlling shares in the Nerazzurri would pass into the hands of Oaktree, as they were put up as collateral for the loan.Suning have been working to avoid the eventuality of defaulting however. There have been both talks with Oaktree on potentially extending the deadline with new terms, and talks with other funds regarding a new loan to refinance the debt.


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Now according to Italian journalist Carlo Festa, of business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, he reports that the fund are in the due diligence phase of the new loan to the Nerazzurri owners.And according to the source, the Nerazzurri owners are now very close to the latter. There have been negotiations with several funds, the journalist confirms. These have included Ares Capital and Hayfin Capital Management.

However, it is a different fund who Suning are close to securing an agreement with. Festa reports that US-based fund PIMCO are in the due diligence phase. Therefore, it should not be long. The Inter owners are close to securing a loan that will enable them to remain at the helm. This will buy them time to consider the future, potentially selling the club or strategizing to stay in control.

Of course, there remains the option of selling the club outright and for Finnish businessman, Thomas Zilliacus, he has since resumed his quest to buy the club. He revealed this in a recent podcast, talking about how close he was to buying the club in the past. “The talks were very advanced. When this news broke (Singapore case, ed.) in late February, we were very, very close to I think wrapping the whole thing up.

“We had committed investors, we made a first bid already in July, the discussions started in May. We made a second bid in November because we wanted to update the July bid on the basis of certain things that had happened in between.

“But it was a very serious bid, it was a complete bid, I had as my advisors one of the largest investment banks in the world with offices in every major financial centre in the world, including in Milan. A name that everybody knows but I can’t mention who for contractual reasons.”

Zilliacus also suggested it was time for Suning to sell Inter. “I always had a great communication with Steven Zhang. I felt immediately the first time we met, which was in May last year, I felt immediately a great liking for him.

“I think he’s an amazing guy, he came to Milano at the age of 26 without any background in football and he managed to get Inter’s big organization with many senior people who had been in football for many years, to listen to him. I think he did a fantastic job, I have full admiration for him.

“As a fan myself, but as a fan is not just a fan but has a capability to build a consortium that can buy the club, my answer is yes I think it is time for Suning to sell the club. They are kicking the can down the road. “The debts are already very large, and they will become even larger because if the Oaktree loan is replaced by a new loan because there is a massive interest rate that has ballooned the loan quite significantly.

“At the same time, although I have no idea what the reasons for this are, but I don’t really see it as very normal that the chairman of the club hasn’t been in Italy for close to a year.“I don’t think this is how the club should be run. I think it requires someone who is present all the time.” He said.

Meanwhile…

Giovanni Fabbian opened up about the shining season at Bologna, what it would take for him to return to Inter and the influence of Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham. The 21-year-old Italian midfielder joined Thiago Motta’s side from the Nerazzurri last summer in a deal worth around €5m, giving him the chance for more regular playing time.

The Milanese club hold a €12m buy-back clause, allowing them to bring him back if needed. Fabbian has impressed as part of Bologna’s Cinderella story this season, scoring five goals and providing two assists across 21 Serie A matches, showing his might in the second half of the campaign. Some recent reports claimed Inter are considering activating the buy-back clause this summer.

In a recent interview with SportWeek, Fabbian first discussed his evolving role on the pitch. “I started as a striker, then full-back and central defender. I played a bit in all roles, except as a goalkeeper. Actually, yes, only once, with their first shot they scored, and it was my fault. “I immediately said enough. They moved me to midfield when I was 13 or 14 years old, I had grown a lot in height, and they decided that that would be my role.”

He was asked If Wilfried Gnonto was his closest friend in football. “There are others, but I’m particularly attached to him (Gnonto, ed.). Great family, he’s strong on the pitch and fun off it. We were classmates at boarding school.” Fabbian remembered his experiences with Reggina under Pippo Inzaghi. “Fantastic. Beautiful. Inzaghi let me play, he gave me a lot of valuable advice, he publicly had good words towards me. We’re still in touch.”

Read Also: “Massimiliano Allegri Is A Tactician, Thiago Motta A Strategist”

He was also asked what Thiago Motta told him to improve this season. “Eh, these are things between the two of us and they must stay between the two of us. But it’s true that, on our first phone call, he clarified to me what he thought I should improve on.” Fabbian spoke about Bologna’s shining season. “Yes, we are a team that always try to find the solution to get out of our own half of the pitch with the ball on the ground.

It’s a choice that presupposes the assumption of responsibility. It’s nice to play for Bologna and it’s nice to see us play.” He commented on what It would take for a move to a big club like Inter. “For a young player, the important thing is to play, with the possibility of making mistakes.”Finally, Fabbian highlighted the two best players in his role.“Barella, for his personality and because he knows how to do many things. Bellingham, because he has extraordinary technical qualities.” He further added.

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