Russian billionaire set to take over Monaco

Updated: December 14, 2011

MONACO (AP) — Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev is poised to take over at struggling Monaco before the end of the year, according to club president Etienne Franzi.

Rybolovlev’s offer for the club was put before the French football league’s financial watchdog on Tuesday, and Franzi is optimistic the takeover will go ahead.

“Things are not quite finalized but are moving along very well,” Franzi told Nice Matin newspaper on Wednesday. “We are in discussions with Rybolovlev and his group. We hope that he will be Monaco’s new majority shareholder before the end of the year.”

Monaco is currently owned by MSP (Monaco Sport Partners), which groups together several local businessmen. Rybolovlev would effectively buy them out.

Rybolovlev, who made his billions in fertilizer products, bought U.S. businessman Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion for $100 million in 2008.

Monaco was relegated from the top flight last year and is bottom of the French second division with only one win in 16 games. It won the last of its seven league titles in the 2000-01 season, and reached the final of the Champions League in 2004, losing to Porto.

Prince Albert of Monaco takes a keen interest in the running of the club and regularly attends games at Stade Louis II.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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