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AC Milan posts highest-ever annual loss at €90 mn, as talks to sell the club continue

by Gianni Dragoni

AC Milan ended 2014 with a net loss of €91.28 million, the highest in the history of the soccer club. The year-end results were approved by the board but haven't yet been made public. Shareholders will vote to approve the results at a meeting scheduled for April 28.

The 2014 figures show losses continuing to widen significantly, from € 15.7 million in 2013. The year earlier was in the red for €6.86 million. Over the last ten years (2005-2014), the club has accumulated net losses of €361 million - posting a profit only one year, in 2006 (€2.48 million).

That's why former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who owns 99.93% of the club through his Fininvest holding company, is looking for a partner to take 30% off his hands and provide the team with a cash injection of several hundred million dollars.

Talks are underway with Chinese groups, but the sides are far apart on how to value the team. According to Berlusconi, AC Milan is worth €1 billion but potential partners see maximum value of €500 million, excluding debt.

In the 2014 financial report, the team's revenues had fallen to €223.9 million from €254 million, excluding gains from player movements.

Operating costs rose to €154.7 million from €151.3 million: the cost of players and training staff, at €140.8 million last year versus €138.4 million in 2013, is equal to 62.9% of total revenue.

The club had an average of about 299.4 employees last year, about 20 more than the year before.

Costs also included €52 million in amortization and €60.4 million for goods and services - including €8.76 million for the San Siro Stadium between rent to the city of Milan and management. Gains from buying and selling players dropped to €5.77 million from €23.38 million. The most important deal was the sale of Mario Balotelli to Liverpool for a gain of €4.33 million.

The company has negative net assets for €94.2 million, meaning it needs to be recapitalized by at least €100 million to keep going without having its book to be scrutinized in a financial court.

Formally, authorities that control FIGC, the Italian Soccer Federation, only look at the balance sheet of parent company AC Milan SpA, which reported a loss of €99 million in 2014, higher than the consolidated figure, while the gap in net assets was smaller, at negative €20.95 million.

The Milan group has total debt of €334.5 million and total credit of €114.8 million. The deterioration of the 2014 results didn't stop it from increasing management compensation, which rose to €2.55 million from €2.2 million, mostly likely a result of naming a second CEO, Barbara Berlusconi, alongside Adriano Galliani.