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17 October 2013

Massimo Moratti: "It's in good hands." Profile of new Inter owner, Erick Thohir

ErickThohir
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP









 






Massimo Moratti on 15 October 2013:

 "E' in buone mani. L'Inter va a gente per bene."

"It's in good hands. Internazionale is going to people for the best."

With those brief words, Massimo Moratti said good-bye to his beloved club after 18 years in remarks at La Gazzettta dello Sport.

"Abbiamo firmato con Thohir". Massimo Moratti, all'entrata negli uffici della Saras, in quattro parole sintetizza la fine di un'era e l'inizio di un'altra. "Sono soddisfatto, i tempi sono stati lunghi ma mi sembra che la cosa sia equilibrata e fatta bene". Moratti saluta così il nuovo accordo siglato con Erick Thohir per la cessione del 70% delle quote dell'Inter. Sotto la sua presidenza, la società nerazzurra ha disputato 669 partite di Serie A: 363 vittorie, 164 pareggi, 142 sconfitte.
"We signed with Thohir. I"m satisfied. It took a long time but it seems to be that the deal is balanced and well-done."
"Moratti said good-bye this way with the new deal that was signed with Erick Thohir for 70 percent of the shares of Inter. Under his presidency, Inter played 669 games in Serie A: 363 wins, 164 draws, 142 losses." 

(Please note: An official valuation of the deal was not provided yet by Internazionale Milano for the 70 percent of transferred shares.)

"Penso che la storia dell’Inter sarà arricchita da una nuova stagione - è il commento che Massimo Moratti ha voluto inserire nel comunicato stampa che ha ufficializzato nel primo pomeriggio la conclusione della trattativa -, grazie ai nostri nuovi partner internazionali che, sono certo, contribuiranno a proseguire la serie di successi. L’entusiasmo e il pragmatismo dei nuovi partner sono certamente una garanzia per il futuro. Erick, Rosan e Handy conquisteranno nuove vittorie per i nostri amati colori, con la fiducia e l’amicizia dei nostri fantastici tifosi. La mia famiglia e io continueremo a vivere questa meravigliosa storia insieme a Erick, Rosan (Roeslani) e Handy (Soetedjo), garantendo l’attaccamento e l’affetto che ci lega al Club e ai suoi tifosi".


LogoInter
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP













"I think that the history of Inter will be enriched by next season thanks to our new international partners who, I'm sure, will contribute to proceed to a series of successes. The enthusiasm and pragmatism of the new partners are surely a guarantee for the future.
Erick, Rosan and Handy will conquer new victories for our beloved colors with the confidence and friendship of our fantastic fans. My family and I will continue to experience this marvelous story together with Erick, Rosan Roeslani and Handy Soetedjoguaranteeing an attachment and affection that ties us to the club and its fans."
Comments by Erick Thohir to La Gazzetta dello Sport on 15 October 2013:

"Oggi è davvero un giorno speciale. Sono onorato che Massimo Moratti mi abbia affidato la responsabilità di guidare l’Inter in un nuovo capitolo della sua storia, e sono molto felice per il fatto che continuerà ad essere presente come mio partner. Il lavoro fatto dalla famiglia Moratti, dalla Grande Inter di Angelo al Triplete di Massimo, ha reso l’Inter uno dei club più rispettati al mondo, per il suo valore in campo, e per il suo impegno sociale. Sono un imprenditore, ma prima ancora un tifoso e un amante dello sport. Non vedo l’ora di mettere la nostra passione e la nostra esperienza internazionale al servizio di questo fantastico Club e dei suoi tifosi".

 "In Indonesia oggi si celebra l'Eid al-Adha. Si spera che questa firma possa essere una benedizione".
"Today is really a special day. I'm honored that Massimo Moratti has trusted me with the responsibility to manage Inter in a new chapter in its history. I'm very happy for the fact that he'll continue to be present as my partner. The work done by the Moratti family, from the times of 'Grande Inter' of Angelo to the Treble with Massimo, made Inter one of the most respected clubs in the world. For its value on the pitch and for its social duty. I'm a businessman but firstly, I'm also a fan and lover of sport. I can't wait to put our passion and international experience at the service of this fantastic club and its fans."
"Today, we celebrate Eid al-Adha in Indonesia. One hopes that this signing can be a benediction." 
Let's take a look at the new head and public face of Inter, Erick Thohir.

Erick Thohir is an Indonesian businessman and Deputy Commissioner of Mahaka Media in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is also the President of ASEABA (Southeast Asian Basketball Association). Mahaka Media has sizable media and publications holdings. Mr. Thohir attended university in the United States, and holds a bachelor's of Arts degree along with an M.B.A., respectively.

His father, Teddy, is the co-owner of Astra Automotive. A brother, Garibaldi, works in investment banking.

Historic Bid of a Fabled and Decorated Italian club: Internazionale Milano

Over two months ago, Mr. Thohir became only the second foreigner (after the 2011 purchase by an American consortium for AS Roma) to table a serious offer for a Serie A side. Details of the potential purchase are still under negotiation; however, Mr. Thohir has told Italian media that he wants a majority stake in Internazionale. Massimo Moratti, the president and owner of Inter, has also verified that the offer is for a controlling interest of his club.

Scarce Public Statements on the Deal

Mr. Thohir has not given many interviews on the matter. He was quoted briefly by Sky Sports on 31 July 2013:
"I don't know if the deal will go through or not. I don't know, and I don't know how long it will take. There are other things we need to work out with Inter, but everything is going in the right direction. Whether I take a minority share or a majority (share) will be important; we'll see what can be agreed...
The goal is to make Inter one of the top 10 teams in the world."
Mr. Thohir was interviewed on 10 October 2013 with Metro TV in Jakarta after a students' basketball league opening ceremony:
  • A consortium will buy Internazionale and it will be registered as a "PT" or Limited Partnership.
  • He will handle the marketing and financial aspects.
  • He will remain in Indonesia.
  • Terms have been agreed and the contract is being analyzed "word for word" by both legal teams prior to putting pen to paper.
  • The Board of Directors will appoint the next President of Internazionale.
  • "God-willing" the deal will go through.
  • He made an example of the contract's "monitoring and control aspect." But the lawyers said it was different.
  • Translated excerpts courtesy of Nuy Tarigan () from the interview transcript published by Bola on 10 October 2013.
Erick Thohir's Sporting Holdings
Mr. Thohir also has notable holdings in sports both in his native Indonesia and abroad. In 2011, he became a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. A year later, the Indonesian made his first investment in world football and became a majority shareholder in DC United of Major League Soccer.
  • DC United (football)
  • Indonesia Warriors (basketball)
  • Internazionale Milano (football)
  • Philadelphia 76ers (basketball)
  • Satria Muda BritAma Jakarta (basketball) 
Financial Realities of Inter


Argentina Connection Inter
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP
Massimo Moratti, the president and patron of Internazionale, gave a detailed interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport on 3 August 2013. He outlined the financial aspects of a potential deal with Mr. Thohir:
  • Turnover of 251 million euro in 2010 to 171 million euro in 2013.
  • Salaries of 350 million euro in 2010 to one half of that figure in 2013.
  • 70 million euro net loss in the latest reporting period.
  • No Champions League football only three years removed from winning the event in 2010.
Mr. Moratti also provided a glimpse of the ongoing negotiations on 19 September 2013 with comments made to La Gazzetta dello Sport:

"Non ci sono neanche grossi problemi da risolvere. Ma l'accordo ancora non è stato raggiunto. Ci sono altri imprenditori pronti ad appoggiarlo, ci potrebbe volere un mese per chiudere.. I passi avanti più che altro avvengono dal punto di vista umano. Diciamo che ci siamo conosciuti un po' di più, ho apprezzato molto il carattere delle persone che ho incontrato. Per me è molto importante quella parte". E lo dimostra l'ultima risposta: "Resterò presidente? Non credo. La mia famiglia resterà per forza. Ma questo è un ristrutturare tutto in termini più organizzati per affrontare il futuro. Visto che ci sono giocatori che costano cento milioni, a questo punto bisogna cominciare a capire che, per rimanere allo stesso livello, ti devi strutturare in termini tali da poter affrontare anche questo tipo di situazione. Perchè l'Inter non può rimanere a un livello diverso".
"There still aren't big problems to resolve. But the deal has not yet been reachedThere are other businessmen ready to give their blessing to it. It could take another month to close. 
The steps ahead more than anything are coming from a humane perspective. Let's say that we've become better acquainted. I greatly appreciated the character of the persons who I met. For me, that part is very important."
On Remaining President
"Will I stay on as president? I don't think so. My family will remain by right. But this is a complete restructuring in organized ways to face the future. Seeing that there are players who cost 100 million euro, at this point, you need to begin to understand that to stay at the same level, you have to restructure in such a way to be able to also face this type of situation. Because Inter can't remain at a different level."
The Legacy of the Moratti Family

Inter legend, Giuseppe Meazza, in action
versus Juventus in 1933.
Image credit: Public domain since the
copyright expired in the United States.













The Moratti Family, first with Angelo and since 1995 under Massimo's guidance, has owned and managed Inter for almost 60 years. Their collective trophy haul was noteworthy:
  • Three European Cups, three UEFA Cups, 11 Italian Serie A titles, six Italian Cups, five Italian Super Cups and three Intercontinental/Club World Cups, respectively.
In the same interview referenced above with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Massimo Moratti made several candid and intriguing observations that provide us with a look at why he decided to put his beloved club on the market:

 "Vede, per anni il calcio italiano, e mi assumo la mia parte di colpe, ha vinto all'estero sul campo ma finanziariamente ha giocato una partita assolutamente casalinga. E l'ha perduta. S'è nutrito di diritti televisivi e di colpi di mercato. Per carità, anche quelli servono, creano identità e coesione tra i tifosi, che sono il primo patrimonio di una squadra. Ma oggi ci ritroviamo incapaci di fare sistema, con stadi vetusti, senza un format che possa realmente attrarre un interesse planetario. Creare un solido mercato all'estero è un'operazione lunga, difficile e costosa. E la concorrenza è fortissima. L'ingresso di un socio asiatico, per esempio, quel mercato fondamentale te lo porta in casa. Ti costringe a cambiare indirizzo e abitudini manageriali. Ti apre al mondo e a nuove risorse in modo quasi automatico. Insomma, ti internazionalizza persino più di un Triplete...".

On the faults of Italian football along with his own role:
"Look, for years, Italian football, and I'll take my share of the blame, won abroad on foreign pitches but in a financial sense, played entirely at home. And lost. It was fed off of television rights and big transfer market deals. Let's be frank. Those items also play a role, create identities and cohesion between fans who are the first heirs of a club.
But today, we find ourselves again incapable of making an organized system, with out-dated stadiums, without a 'format' that can realistically attract global interest. To create a stable foreign market is a long-term process that is difficult and expensive. Opposition to it is very formidable. 
The entry of an Asian partner, for example, allows you to fundamentally bring that market home. It forces you to change course and management practices. You open yourself up to the world and new resources in an almost automatic way. More or less, it internationalizes you probably more than winning a treble."
On his concern for the Inter Fans

"Li capisco eccome, i nostri tifosi: il mio primo pensiero è a loro perché l'Inter è di chi la ama. Mi creda, sto agendo per loro... Del resto, un eventuale arrivo di Thohir non sarebbe affatto in contraddizione con l'ingresso di altri soci rappresentativi del mondo interista...".
"I understand them; Here I am. The fans: My first thought is to them because Inter belongs to those who love it. Believe me, I'm working and advocating for them. Of the rest, an eventual arrival of Thohir won't be a contradiction at all with the entrance of other partners representative of the world of Inter."
Inter as a Daughter

Sa, l'Inter è come una figlia. Una ragazza bellissima, con doti straordinarie. Una ragazza di una volta... Le dai tutto per farla divertire, perché è giusto così. Ma viene un tempo in cui è opportuno mandarla in collegio. La disciplina e l'educazione sono fondamentali per la sua crescita. Solo così imparerà a camminare da sola...".
"You know, Inter is like a daughter. A beautiful girl with extraordinary gifts. A young woman from a certain time. You give her anything to make her happy because it's proper that way. But there comes a time when you have to send her off to college. Discipline and education are fundamental to her growth. Only this way will she learn how to walk through life on her own..."
Mr. Moratti's Courage and Vision


Moratti particolare.JPG
Massimo Moratti in 2009.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Mr. Moratti should be hailed for his courage. He recognized the reality of a difficult financial climate along with the benefits that foreign ownership could bring to his club. It is not easy to send your child out into the world; however, wise parents recognize when it is time to cut the cord.

"Rinunciare a chi si ama per il suo bene è forse l'atto più grande e puro che c'è. Ed è questo che Moratti sta facendo: come un padre che accompagna sua figlia all'altare dopo averla vista nascere e crescere. Moratti per l'Inter e per chi ne ha fatto parte non è stato solo un Presidente, è stato un padre, un riferimento, un esempio di stile e di comportamenti."
"To renounce the one you love for its own good is perhaps the greatest and pure act there is. And this is what Moratti is doing: Like a father who walks his daughter down the aisle after watching her birth and growing up. Moratti for Inter, and for those who were a part of it, is not only a President. He was a father, a point of reference, an example of style and proper behavior."
--- Sinisa Mihajlovic, former Inter player and assistant manager, on 20 September 2013 at La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries and The Soccer Translator. You can follow Steve @worldfootballcm on Twitter.

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A special thanks to AndhikaMPPP for his unique football artwork that is featured at this site.