10/16/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA - ITALY
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"Happy and flattered," Indonesian tycoon Erick Thohir is Inter Milan's new owner

by Mathias Hariyadi
Through his company, the 43-year-old businessman is paying € 250 million for 70 per cent of the Italian team. His goal is to win with a more "international team" and an Indonesian among its players. Ordinary Indonesians are astonished by the power and wealth of one of their tycoons.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - "I am happy and flattered. I thank everybody for their crucial support, which spurred me to finalise the deal. [However], the road to reach our goal is still long," said the team's new young owner, Indonesian tycoon Erick Thohir after agreeing to the terms for the purchase of Milan's historic 'Internazionale' football team from its current owners, the Moratti family.

After a gruelling six-month negotiation, the Asian businessman bought 70 per cent of the company shares. He will own 35 per cent, whilst his partners Roeslani and Soetedjo will hold 17 per cent each.

Thohir agreed to pay the team's outgoing Italian owners just over € 250 million (US$ 340 million). He said he is "happy and flattered" to be Inter Milan's majority shareholder.

Even in Indonesia, a nation where football has a wide appeal, people are familiar with the successes of Inter Milan, a team that has however lost some of its shine in the past two years after winning the Champions League in 2010.

The team's new 43-year-old owner, who heads a financial empire, said he hopes that one day an Indonesian player might join the Milan-based team, making it more international in accordance with its Italian name (Internazionale).

Thohir will not be alone in this adventure. His two oldest partners, Rosan Roeslani and Handy Soetedjo, are joining him.

After going to university in Belgium, Roeslani now holds business interests in banking, assets management and construction.

Soetedjo is unknown to most Indonesians outside of certain circles. With Thohir, he owns the PT Mahaka Media Tbk. Since 2011, he also owns Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team. His other interests are in mining and oil.

Erick Thohir, father of four, is now a "new entry" in the local and international business world. Son of the co-founder of the country's main car company, Astra International, he earned greater visibility in the sporting world.

So far, Indonesia football fans and others in civil society have had little to say about the transaction because the economics of sports tend to be low key. However, quite a few people were surprised that fellow Indonesians could have achieved such power and wealth, people like 43-year old Erick Thohir that is.

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