American billionaire agrees deal to buy Italian football giant AS Roma

US billionaire Dan Friedkin has agreed a deal to purchase AS Roma, the Italian soccer giant confirmed on Thursday.

The Serie A side said formal contracts with Friedkin’s consortium were signed on Wednesday, in a deal worth 591 million euros ($700m). The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Friedkin is the owner of Gulf States Toyota, a franchise distributor that sells Toyotas in a number of southern US states. His net worth is estimated at $4.1 billion by Forbes.

He will replace James Pallotta, an American businessman who took over the club in 2011 but has failed to return it to the summit of Italian football.

The side has not won a league title since 2001, finishing as runners-up nine times during that span. The team has missed out on qualification for the Champions League in each of the last two seasons.

READ: Ronaldo scores as Juve wins ninth straight title

“Over the last month, Dan and Ryan Friedkin have demonstrated their total commitment to finalizing this deal and taking the club forward in a positive way. I am sure they will be great future owners for AS Roma,” Pallotta said in a statement Thursday.

Friedkin inherited his Toyota distributor from his father, Thomas H. Friedkin. The business has exclusive rights to sell Toyota vehicles in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

His consortium, The Friedkin Group, also owns the Imperative Entertainment studio, aerial cinematography company Pursuit Aviation, and the newly created production company NEON, which was involved in producing or distributing movies including “I, Tonya,” “Apollo 11” and “Parasite.”

“All of us at The Friedkin Group are so happy to have taken the steps to become a part of this iconic city and club,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to closing the purchase as soon as possible and immersing ourselves in the AS Roma family.”

Friedkin takes over a club boasting a number of high-profile players, including veteran striker Edin Džeko and highly touted forward Justin Kluivert.

The club finished fifth in Serie A this season, and restarts its Europa League campaign on Thursday against Sevilla.

Founded in 1927 and based in Italy’s capital, Roma is one of the country’s most followed teams. The club has a passionate rivalry with local rivals Lazio, with whom it shares a stadium, but has lost ground to Juventus in recent years.

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