Italian football club Genoa sold to US investment firm

Genoa announced on Thursday they have been bought by American private equity fund 777 Partners for a reported 150 million euros ($175 million) as Italian businessman Enrico Preziosi ends his 18-year ownership of Italy’s oldest football club.

«The new owner group, which will acquire 99.9 per cent of Genoa’s share capital, will pay new capital into the club and will assume some related liabilities,» the statement said.

«The previous owner, Enrico Preziosi, will remain on the board of directors, while CEO Alessandro Zarboni will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the club,» it added.

Preziosi, 73, took over Genoa, who were founded by Englishmen in 1893 as a cricket and athletics club, in 2003 with the nine-time Italian champions in the hands of liquidators.

Genoa fans have had little to cheer about since Preziosi’s arrival though, winning no trophies and only finishing in the top 10 once in the past 10 seasons.

When they did, taking sixth place in 2015, they were denied a place in the Europa League as they were unable to obtain a UEFA licence from the Italian Football Federation.

Their place was given to their local rivals Sampdoria, who finished seventh.

They even spent one season in the third-tier Serie C1 early in Preziosi’s tenure, when their 2005 promotion to Serie A was cancelled and they were relegated after authorities found evidence of fixing of their final game of the campaign against Venezia, won 3-2 by Genoa.

The scandal was to become infamous in Italy as a few days after the game, which Genoa needed to win to assure themselves of a place in Italy’s top flight, Venezia director Giuseppe Pagliari was stopped by police near the headquarters of Preziosi’s toy company with a suitcase containing 250,000 euros in cash.

777, who reportedly hold a stake in La Liga side Sevilla, are a private investment firm based in Miami.

They invest in six broad industries: insurance, consumer and commercial finance, litigation finance, direct lending, media and entertainment and aviation.

«We understand and respect the responsibility we are inheriting, we want to preserve and protect the proud Rossoblu heritage by aiming for the best possible positions in Serie A,» 777 founder Josh Wander said.

In a July press release, the company said it operates a portfolio of nearly 50 companies and that it has amassed $6 billion in assets since its inception.

Their most recent acquisitions are insurance companies Synchrono Group in August 2021, for $3.2 million and Ensurem in March 2021 for an undisclosed amount.

777 also agreed to purchase insurer Randall & Quilter for almost $100 million in April 2020, a deal which is reportedly «pending».

Other deals include the sports-focused streaming platform Fanatiz for $10 million in January last year and Canadian ultra-low-cost airline Flair in April 2019.

777 Partners also ordered 24 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes back in March.

td/iwd/dmc