It was announced earlier today that Giorgio Furlani will take over as CEO of AC Milan once Ivan Gazidis departs the role on December 5.
La Gazzetta dello Sport have provided some background on Furlani, who was born in 1979 in Milano, grew up an AC Milan fan, became a member of the board of directors when Elliott Management took over and worked for 12 years as Elliott’s portfolio manager.
The 43-year-old graduated with a degree in Economics and Finance from Bocconi University, earning a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard and gaining international experience. His first positions were as an analyst at Lehman Brothers and in the investment companies Silver Point Capital and Apollo, one of the largest global alternative asset managers.
In 2010 Furlani joined Elliott, becoming a portfolio manager based in London and, over time, a point of reference for the main operations of the US fund in Italy. He first became involved in Milan when Yonghong Li borrowed money to buy the club in 2017 and then Elliott took control of the club after he failed to repay it.
Furlani is a boyhood Milan supporter as his photo on WhatsApp shows, as it also has his young children in the Rossoneri shirt. He was co-opted to Milan’s board of directors in 2018, and in tandem with Gordon Singer he acted as a key cog in Elliott’s running of the club.
He was personally involved in the various dossiers, from the transfer campaign to relations with UEFA and the new stadium project. He may be Milan-born and a fan since he was young but he has a global vision, fully adhering to the football industry for how it has evolved in recent decades.
That means he sees the importance of clubs doubling as media companies, with connections between sport, lifestyle, fashion and entertainment and a business model focused on budget discipline and sustainability that passes from the obsessive exploration of new revenues.
The turnaround was completed under Elliott with a strict policy based on cost control and investing in youth. It is true that the growth process has already started, as evidenced by the increase in commercial revenues (+59% in two years), but now the aim is to go from €250-300m to €500m revenues per year in the medium-long term, in line with the European top ten.
Here lies the essence of RedBird’s challenge that needs to take Milan to a higher level after having valued it €1.2bn at the time of the sale, which took place through a payment of €600m cash to Elliott and with the remaining part guaranteed by the old owners through a vendor loan at 7%.
To guarantee the loan, Paul Singer obtained a pledge on 99.93% of the Rossoneri shares and a qualified representation on the board of directors. It could be said by extension that the ‘promotion’ of Furlani to CEO represents the best possible guarantee for Elliott but it is a move that suits all parties involved.
Cardinale has trusted the current management with the corporate restructuring, preferring a gradual integration of his chosen figures so that the process can continue uninterrupted and fuel can be added to the fire at the right moments.
Furlani is a great expert in international finance and asset management, and in these four years he has studied the sector in depth, refining his knowledge of football with all its specificities. Now, at 43, he has the opportunity to put this wealth of skills to good use with his favourite team.
He will say goodbye to London and return to live in Milano, with his family – wife and three children – joining his parents who remained in the city. Those who know him describe him as a ‘nerd’ and a decision maker, who is used to finding meeting points. Things that bode well for Milan.