Zhang, Oaktree, and the three-year mystery of LionRock

Between yesterday and today a strong phenomenon emerged interrogativecarried forward by the articles of some attentive journalists, on theenforcement of Oaktree’s lien with regards to the shares ofInter pledged by Steven Zhang in 2021. The focus is on 31% of the club’s shares attributable to the parent company LionRock.

There are two press releases that create confusion and give rise to doubts: the first is that of Inter last Thursday, when it announced that Oaktree had enforced the pledge it held on the shares of Great Horizon (parent company of Grand Sunshine, in turn parent company of Grand Tower, a vehicle that held 68.55% of the club’s shares), with GH which in turn “has acquired control and ownership of LionRock Zuqiu Ltd, a company which indirectly holds, through its subsidiary ISC SpA, 31.05% of the shares of Inter”. Grand Tower plus ISC thus make up the entirety of the Inter shares pledged by Zhang at the time of the now infamous 2021 financing.

The questions arise after the words of a spokesperson for LionRock who, on May 22, told Reuters that the Hong Kong fund had exited the Inter investment when Oaktree granted the loan to Zhang in 2021 three years ago now. From GH’s 2021 budget, reports Alessandro Giudice However, no acquisition of the share appears in the Corriere dello Sport, also because at the end of 2021 he had less than 6 thousand euros in cash.

Taking what the LionRock spokesperson said as true then these shares, 31% of ISC, for three years belonged to an owner who cannot be identified at this time as the change of ownership of this shareholding is not found in any type of communication.

And this would be a problem, given that the FIGC rules oblige (the investigation into the AC Milan sale is based precisely on this aspect, with Furlani and Gazidis under investigation) clubs to communicate transfers of club shares exceeding 10%sorry the fine or the penalty of points in the standings. The rules say the same UEFA. Huge doubts remain as to who was the beneficiary of these shares. If not LionRock, Zhang? And how would he pay for them? And when?

The lawyer Happy Raymond, expert and always up to date on sports law issues, was interviewed by fanpage.it and tried to shed further clarity on the issue. We report some salient passages from the interview, which you can find in full here.

Lawyer, what’s wrong with LionRock’s situation after the move of Inter and Oaktree?

“The investigators will have to say this if they decide to investigate. What we know is that Inter announced a few days ago that Great Horizon, the vehicle that indirectly controlled 68.5% of Inter and which was questioned from Oaktree, also had ownership of 31.05% of LionRock. We do not know when this event occurred, combined with the recent statement from the Reuters spokesperson, according to which LionRock would exit the deal as early as 2021. “.

What type of crime occurs in this case according to the FIGC rules?

“In theory, the same crime alleged against AC Milan could take place, i.e. ‘obstruction of the exercise of the functions of the public supervisory authorities’, regulated by article 2638 of the civil code. While in the sporting field the sphere of reference is that of articles 31 and 32 of the Sports Justice Code”.

How is it possible that a corporate change of this magnitude remained out of the spotlight, even from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, for three years?

“Changes in corporate control exceeding 10% of the shares must always be communicated to the FIGC. If all this has not happened, the relevant bodies will have to clarify it.”

At the moment, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport on newsstands this morning, The FIGC does not know anything illicit in the Nerazzurri’s position. At the moment there are still no elements to say whether or not investigations will be opened by both ordinary and sporting justice.

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