Russian billionaire completes Monaco takeover

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev completed his takeover of
Monaco on Friday and promised to invest a minimum of ?100 million
($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
percent.

”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 realize 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 U.S. 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 realize 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 percent 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.”