Russian billionaire completes Monaco takeover

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev completed his takeover of Monaco on Friday and promised to invest a minimum of $130 million in the struggling club over the next four years.

Monaco announced on its website that Rybolovlev’s company Monaco Sport Invest (MSI) had become majority shareholder with 66.67%.

“I think this club has enormous potential,” Rybolovlev said of the seven-time French champion which is currently bottom of the second tier with one win in 18 games.

“I hope that it will be able to realise that potential fully and completely, at both national and European level.”

Rybolovlev is among the world’s 100 richest people with a net worth estimated at $9.5-billion. He made his money in fertilizer products.

Rybolovlev bought US businessman Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion for $100-million in 2008, and his 22-year-old daughter recently purchased a New York apartment that was listed at $88-million.

The new owner has a huge task to revive Monaco’s fortunes. The club won the last of its French league titles in 2000 and was Champions League runner-up in 2004, losing to Jose Mourinho’s Porto.

An 18th-place finish last season saw the club lose its place in the top flight and Rybolovlev may have to start spending straight away with Monaco now in danger of a second straight relegation.

“I am a fervent football fan,” Rybolovlev said. “Having lived long enough in Monaco, I realise that AS Monaco isn’t just one of the principality’s sporting teams, but also represents one of the principal symbols of the principality, its pride and its traditions.”

Rybolovlev has been elected president of the board of directors. He is joined on the board by five representatives of MSI and three members of l’Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club, which has kept 33% of the shares.

Prince Albert of Monaco, who takes a keen interest in the running of the club and regularly attends games at Stade Louis II, said he was hopeful Rybolovlev was the right man to turn Monaco around.

“The agreement that has been reached opens a new page in the history of a football team that is so dear to the principality, and that I hope will progressively regain the position which in the past made it one of the jewels of sporting life in Monaco.” — Sapa-AP

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