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Starwood Calls Time On Ownership Of Italian Soccer Giant With Real Estate Project Stalled

Stadio della Roma

U.S. opportunity fund Starwood Capital has sold its stake in Italian Serie A football team AS Roma as part of a wider change of ownership of the club.

The sale brings an end to Starwood’s involvement in Roma, which began as a way of accessing a huge Roman real estate development that remains in limbo following years of delays.

Earlier this month, U.S. car dealership billionaire Daniel Friedkin bought Roma from a consortium headed by U.S. financier James Pallotta for €591M ($697M, £532M). 

Starwood bought an undisclosed minority stake in Roma in 2014 for an undisclosed fee. It made clear at the time that it did so purely because it allowed Starwood to become a real estate capital partner in AS Roma's stadium and mixed-use development planned in the Tor di Valle project.

That project entailed the building of a new 52,500-seat stadium and wider 2.7M SF commercial development including offices, retail, restaurants, conference facilities and entertainment venues. The scheme was to be built on the site of an abandoned racetrack, and the potential end value was as much as €2B.

“This transaction presents an opportunity to partner with AS Roma and its major stakeholders to develop one of the most thrilling real estate projects in Europe today," Starwood Chairman and chief executive Barry Sternlicht said at the time.

Lendlease and AEG were also partners in the scheme.

Six years after Starwood bought in, and eight years after the project was first proposed by Pallotta, nothing has happened. The scheme has been mired in planning disputes and then, after it did receive the all-clear from the city authorities in 2018, a corruption investigation — not including Starwood or any club officials, but local politicians — further delayed the scheme.

Originally scheduled to be completed in 2017, it is yet to begin. 

Starwood’s experience in European football mirrors to some degree that of fellow U.S. real estate investor Colony Capital. It bought French football team Paris St. Germain in 2006 with a view to redeveloping its stadium and training ground, but couldn’t get the project off the ground and sold out to Qatari investors in 2011. 

Related Topics: AS Roma