Former Italian prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi on Friday signed a preliminary contract for the sale of a 99.93 percent stake in the Milan AC soccer team to Chinese Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co. Ltd. The Chinese company is backed by a group of investors, which includes China’s state investment fund Haixia.

The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, is valued at 740 million euros, or $818.13 million at current exchange rates. Milan AC currently has estimated debts of 220 million euros, or $243.23 million. As part of the contract, Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing will invest 350 million euros, or $385 million, over the next three years to shore up the company’s financial situation.

Last April, market rumors claimed that Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese web giant Alibaba Group, offered Berlusconi 400 million euros, or $442.2 million, to acquire a 70 percent share of the soccer team.

Berlusconi had previously negotiated the sale of the club to Thai entrepreneur Bee Taechaubol, but the deal fell through earlier this year.

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