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Alibaba founder Jack Ma laughs off AC Milan football club purchase rumors

Is China's richest man, Jack Ma, buying storied Italian football club A.C. Milan? Ma himself is pleading ignorance.

The billionaire used Chinese social media platform Weibo to laugh off reports of his rumored purchase of the Serie A club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"Is A.C. Milan in Italy's Milan?" the 51-year-old founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group posted on his verified Weibo account.

"I heard Tyson of the Lakers went to Milan. I don't know whether he went to A.C. Milan. If so, China Super League's Yao Ming will suffer!"

Yao, the retired U.S. National Basketball Association legend, has never played in the Chinese football league. It was not clear whether Ma was referring to retired boxer Mike Tyson, who has a daughter named Milan, or former Los Angeles Lakers player Tyson Chandler.

Ma's Alibaba co-owns China Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

Bloomberg reported this month that a Chinese investor group was pursing a takeover of A.C. Milan with a view to tying up a deal by June.

The group is from the renewable energy and media industries, Bloomberg reported.

Alibaba has been on a shopping spree recently. Ma recently completed his purchase of the South China Morning Post media outlet in Hong Kong and has agreed to buy a controlling stake in Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada to tap into the region's lucrative consumer market.

Reports that Ma was leading a consortium of buyers interested in A.C. Milan appeared this week in Italian newspaper La Repubblica, while A.C. Milan reportedly said this week that it had received expressions of interest in a stake from Chinese groups.

Chinese president Xi Jinping is a football fan and on his trip to the U.K. last year highlighted the potential for further UK-China cooperation on the sport, Reuters reported.

Late last year, a consortium led by state-backed China Media Capital took a $400 million stake in the owner of English Premier League champions Manchester City.

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