NOT much goes Silvio Berlusconi’s way these days. The billionaire ex-crooner and ex-prime minister has spent two years trying to sell AC Milan, a football club he bought in 1986. But its players have struggled, finishing seventh in Italy’s league last season, and business has slumped. A shadow of its old self, the club last year lost €89m ($99m). Its slide has matched the dwindling fortunes of its owner.

Finally on August 5th the Cavaliere, as Mr Berlusconi is still known, said Chinese investors Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing would pay €740m for the club, and take on €220m of its debt. The sale marks a generational turn, as power in Mr Berlusconi’s corporate empire starts to shift towards his children. His eldest daughter, Marina Berlusconi, chair of the family holding company, Fininvest, appears delighted to be rid of AC Milan. The younger Berlusconis will probably prove to be more modest business actors than their father.

A process of succession is under way. A heart attack in June nearly killed Mr Berlusconi, who turns 80 next month. “He is struggling very much to get his...Continue reading