Zlatan Ibrahimović becomes operating partner in RedBird Capital
December 13, 2023
RedBird Capital Partners (“RedBird”) has announced the appointment of Zlatan Ibrahimović (“Ibra”) as an Operating Partner across its Sports and Media & Entertainment investment portfolio. In this capacity, he will also serve as a Senior Advisor to AC Milan Ownership and Senior Management.
Ibra is one of the most iconic football players to have ever played the game. He left his mark on every team he played for, winning 34 trophies between Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona FC, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Over the course of his career, Ibra scored over 570 goals, including more than 500 club goals, and has scored in each of the last four decades. Ibra was named the best player in Italy’s Serie A three times (2008, 2009, 2011) and was named the best player in France’s Ligue 1 three times (2012, 2013, 2015). He was also Serie A’s top scorer in 2009 and 2012, Ligue 1’s top scorer in 2012, 2013 and 2015 and the all-time top scorer for the Swedish national team.
On June 4, 2023, Ibra announced his retirement from football following AC Milan’s final game of the Serie A season, capping his career with the Rossoneri. With his appointment at RedBird, Ibra will kick off his post-playing career as part of the one of the most prolific and successful investors in sports and media globally.
Ibra is a personality whose name resonates far beyond the confines of the football pitch. His prowess on the field has enabled him to build a global brand as an entrepreneur, published author, marketing and advertising specialist and investor. With 123 million social media followers, Ibra is a global influencer of unquestionable scale and appeal, as well as a best-selling author for his autobiography “I Am Zlatan” which ranks as one of the most successful sports biographies. Ibra is also a humanitarian who looks to give back, teaming up with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to raise awareness of the extent to which hunger persists as a global problem and the 805 million people who are suffering from hunger today.
As an Operating Partner at RedBird, Ibra will collaborate with RedBird’s global investment team in supporting the firm’s existing investment portfolio across sports, media and entertainment. He will help source and evaluate new investment opportunities for the firm, and will advise RedBird portfolio companies on commercial projects, digital content strategies and strategic brand building initiatives to extend their presence on a global basis.
At AC Milan, Ibra will serve as a Senior Advisor to Ownership, which is led by RedBird and includes the New York Yankees, one of RedBird’s longest standing partners in sports. Working in close coordination with both AC Milan Ownership and Senior Management, Ibra will play an active role across the Club’s sporting and business operations and will help reinforce the Club’s winning culture. His mandate will include player development and high-performance training, advancing AC Milan’s global brand and commercial interests, and supporting special projects of strategic importance, including the Club’s new stadium.
“We have all been fortunate to witness Zlatan’s greatness as a player and his contributions in leading AC Milan to the top of Serie A,” said Gerry Cardinale, Founder and Managing Partner of RedBird. “What makes a winner of Zlatan’s caliber is not just physical talent, but also high intellect and an entrepreneurial spirit. At RedBird, we have developed partnerships with a very select group of high-performing world class athletes and artists who are able to thrive in the RedBird ecosystem across our sports, media and entertainment portfolio. I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Zlatan in thinking through his post-playing career options. To have him play an active role in the future of the Club is indicative of our continued commitment to excellence both on and off the pitch, and I’m looking forward to working with him as a partner and colleague at both RedBird and AC Milan. The respect Zlatan commanded as a player, his global presence among fans of the sport, and his diverse skillset as an entrepreneur is a powerful combination for both AC Milan and RedBird. I’m thrilled for our fans, our players and coaching staff, and the rest of the Rossoneri community that we can formally welcome him back to the team once again.”
Paolo Scaroni, Chairman of AC Milan, added, “Ibra embodies the meaning of a champion. During his time with the Club, we all saw his work ethic, determination and relentless pursuit of success. Having him as an Advisor for both Ownership and Senior Management is a win by all measures as we continue our relentless pursuit to return AC Milan to the top of European Football.”
AC Milan CEO Giorgio Furlani commented, “Bringing a leader like Ibra as an Advisor to AC Milan’s leadership team underscores our commitment to the future success of our Club for the benefit of our players and our fans. We’re fortunate to have access to Ibra’s creativity and expansive network of relationships across European Football to continue elevating the Club on a global stage.”
Discussing his new roles, Ibrahimovic added, “I am extremely grateful to be joining both RedBird and AC Milan in these important and influential roles. RedBird has partnered with some of the greatest athletes, teams and business figures in the world to create businesses with meaning and impact. I look forward to contributing to their investing activities across their sports, media and entertainment properties.”
He continued, “My love for the Rossoneri will never die, and the opportunity to be a part of its future in a meaningful way is something I could only have dreamed of. I am grateful to Gerry for making this opportunity available to me. I have greatly admired the commitment, passion and hard work RedBird and Senior Management have demonstrated since acquiring the Club. This is not a decision that I take lightly – it is one which is very important and personal to me and my family. I’ve thought long and hard about the first steps in my post-playing career, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to start that journey as a member of RedBird and AC Milan. For me and my family, this is truly a homecoming with the cherished Club where I ended my playing career and am now starting my next chapter.”