Inter are no longer owned by Suning and are under the control of Oaktree Capital Management after the Chinese owners were unable to pay back their debt to the U.S. fund.

The cloud of Suning‘s loan from Oaktree and the impending expiration date has been hanging over the club for three years and the situation has come to a head soon after the Nerazzurri secured the Serie A title and a much coveted second star.

Suning purchased a 68.7% stake in Inter in 2016 and then opted to take out a €275m loan at 12% interest in 2021 in an effort to combat the terrible impact COVID-19 had on the club’s financial situation. Thanks to the interest and a lack of repayments, the outstanding amount owed to Oaktree is now €400m.

Oaktree assumes control of Inter

Inter owner Steven Zhang at the Champions League final. [@Inter_en]

Suning had until May 21, 2024, to either repay the outstanding amount or find other methods of financing to essentially keep Oaktree happy and stop them from exercising their right to assume control of the club.

On Saturday, May 18, Inter president Steven Zhang released a statement in which he explained the club’s efforts to find outside investment and also criticised Oaktree for what he felt was a lack of cooperation.

“During the approach of the pending Oaktree facility redemption date, we have been making every attempt with our partner to find an amicable resolution, including multiple paths for Oaktree to achieve full and immediate financial return. Unfortunately, our efforts to date have been exasperated by legal threats, and a lack of meaningful engagement from Oaktree. Not only has this been deeply frustrating and disappointing, such behavior now poses potential risks to the Club that could seriously jeopardize its stability,” part of the statement read.

Oaktree confirmed the takeover in a statement which read: “As of May 22, funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”) have assumed ownership of FC Internazionale Milano. This follows the non-repayment of Oaktree’s three-year loan to Inter Milan’s holding companies that matured on 21 May 2024 with a total balance due of approximately €395m.”

What happens next for Inter?

Inter fans in the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza’s Curva Nord celebrate their 2023/24 title win. (@Inter)

In the immediate sense, nothing is going to change for Inter and the fans. There has not been a mass sacking or resignation of directors, meaning notable names like Beppe Marotta, Alessandro Antonello, Dario Baccin and Piero Ausilio are still at the club.

Oaktree has said that there will be talks with key stakeholders soon to ensure there is a smooth transition to their ownership. As part of their statement, they also said what is perceived as ‘the right things’ from a fan’s perspective.

Oaktree is dedicated to achieving the best outcome for the long-term prosperity of Inter Milan, with an initial focus on operational and financial stability for the Club and its stakeholders. Oaktree values the legacy of the Club, the passion of the players, the loyalty of the Interisti, and the Club’s significant role in Milan, Italy and the global sporting community,” they said.

Oaktree is committed to working closely with Inter Milan’s current management team, partners, the league and governing bodies to ensure the Club is positioned for success on and off the pitch; focusing on robust management, operations and governance with a vision for sustainable growth and success.”

Inter has been the most high-profile Chinese investment in European football and whilst the club has won six trophies under Suning‘s ownership, this was not the ending that they had in mind. It remains to be seen if Oaktree commits to running Inter long-term, or begins to immediately seek a new buyer for the Italian champions.