Top facts about Zhang Jindong, Inter's club owner

Saturday05 December 2020 | 18:30
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Zhang Jindong is one of the most successful self-made billionaires in the world. He is now onto making Inter great again.

Most of the big clubs in football have foreign owners. In Italy it was different. Almost all clubs had Italian owners. Since the 2010's, they have been facing an economic crisis. Italian football was forced to welcome foreign investment. Foreigners now own both Milan giants. 




has an American owner and


 is owned by a Chinese. 

Here are some interesting facts about Jindong Zhang:

Former club owners, La Grande Inter

After a challenging and glorious era of Massimo Moratti in Inter Milan, he had to sell the club to a new owner. Massimo Moratti was the dream boss for Inter. His dad, Angelo Moratti, was an inter chairman too. 

In 1960 Angelo Moratti brought legendary Helenio Herrera and Luis Suarez from Barcelona. At the time, Barcelona was the La Liga's champion under management of Herrera. Luis Suarez awarded Ballon d'Or for his magnificent performances.These two were the foundation of a team that was about to rule the football world. 

Herrera's special tactics called "Catenaccio" Achieved Inter Three Serie A and two consecutive European championships. In the 60's, Inter Milan team was named "Grande Inter", means Great Inter.

In 1995, when Massimo Moratti became Inter Milan's chairman, Nerazzurri fans were excited. They were hoping for another Grande Inter to come and of course their wish happened. Massimo Moratti spent €1.5 billion or more for transferring top superstar players. Inter won more than sixteen titles from 1995 to 2011. These titles were from almost every competition Inter participated including UEFA Cup in 1998 and UEFA Champions league in 2010. In 2010, Inter Milan became the only Italian club winning treble. Treble means winning domestic league and cup titles in addition to UEFA Champions League championships.

Back then nobody would believe that Inter is starting a downfall. Inter was in €200 million debt. Moratti had to sell many stars like Samuel Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder and


. But all the efforts just lowered the debt down to €160 million. The team's performance on the pitch was not good at all. Changing many managers like Rafa Benitez, Gian Piero Gasperini and Claudio Ranieri didn't solve the problem.

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In 2013, Moratti finally sold 70% of Inter shares to an Indonesian politician and businessman Erik Thohir. Inter wasn't the first team owned by Erick Thohir. He owned MLS club DC United and NBA basketball team Philadelphia 76ers. Moratti kept 30% of Inter shares for himself and became Inter Milan's honorary chairman of the club.

 Thohir remained the Inter Milan’s chairman for three years. In these years the main problem Inter had was the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations. These regulations were preventing Inter Milan's management from spending big money on transfers. This situation led to big problems for strengthening Inter's squad. In June 2013, Suning Holdings Group, a Chinese company, acquired 70% of Inter shares. Its founder Zhang Jindong owns Suning company, making him the major shareholder of Inter Milan.

Zhang Jindong

Zhang Jindong was born on March 1963 in Tianchang in Anhui province. He graduated from the Chinese department at Nanjing Normal University and studied Chinese literature. In 1990, Zhang Jindong's older brother, Zhang Guiping, opened a shop with Jindong as a business partner. The shop was on Ninghai Road with corner Jiangsu Road in Nanjing. 

In that shop, they were selling air conditioners and related products. The brand Suning is actually a combination of "Su" from Jiang-su and "ning" from Ning-hai. One of the facts about Zhang’s business is that they started from a specialty retail store in 1990 in China, and quickly transferred it into a leading national chain store. Today, Suning operates across diversified industries like Suning.com, Logistics, Financial Services, Technology, Real Estate, Sports, Media & Entertainment, and Investment.

Later Zhang Jindong’s brother left the shop to pursue his goals in business. Leaving it to his brother made Zhang Jindong the head of the Suning chain stores and later Suning Holding Group.

Zhang Jindong's Brother

Zhang Guiping started his real estate career. He named his company Suning Universal. It is a common company name in Zhang’s family. Zhang Jindong's brother has a good family business of his own. Zhang Jindong's cousin, Zhang Kangli is another shareholder at Suning Universal Group. Zhang Kangli is Zhang Guiping's only child. Suning Universal's headquarters is placed in Nanjing. Zhang Guiping net worth is $1.4 billion.

Zhang Jindong's Personal Life

There aren’t many facts about Zhang’s personal life. Zhang Jindong is keeping his personal life in secret. The Chinese billionaire is married and has two children. Despite leaking no information about Zhang Jindong's wife and their date of marriage, his son plays a big role in Zhang’s family business.

Zhang Kangyang, also known as Steven Zhang, is the future of Suning. One of the facts about Zhang is that Zhang Jindong's son is now a member of the board of directors of Inter Milan.  But Zhang Jindong is not himself a member of the board. Steven personally owns a 10% stake in Suning Real Estate, one of the companies within his father's collection of businesses.

Steven Zhang, Zhang Jindong's Son

Zhang’s wife and him has a son named Zhang Kangyang or Steven Zhang.  He was born on December 21, 1991, in Nanjing. Nanjing is in China’s eastern-central coastal province of Jiangsu. Zhang Jindong has another child but Steven is the public figure in the Zhang’s family. He is now the chairman of famous Italian club Inter Milan.

Steven Zhang's Education

Zhang Jindong's son studied in Nanjing Foreign Language School before he moved to the United States of America. In the United States, he went to the prestigious Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. 

One of the interesting facts about Zhang’s son is that he showed so much potential studying economics and had a great time. He graduated as a Cum Laude and was recognized as a Presidential Scholar.

Steven Zhang continued his studies in finance and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. he specialized in finance and e-commerce as a Dean's List recipient.

Steven Zhang's Career

Here are some interesting facts about Zhang. Steven Zhang is one of the most significant young business leaders in China. For the last two years, he has appeared in Fortune China Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list. He, as the president of Suning International, has the definitive responsibility for directing the business expansion and future ambitions. 

Suning International is part of Suning Holdings Group, which is the commercial giant ranked second among the top 500 non-state owned enterprises in China. Its annual revenue is RMB 602,5 billion, approximately EUR 79 billion. 

Suning.com is a smart retail subsidiary of the Suning Holdings Group. Its owners are ranked China’s most valuable retail brand and listed on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies for three successive years. Its brand value is about RMB 269.198 billion, approximately EUR 34 billion and it has an operating income of more than USD 37 billion, approximately EUR 33 billion.

Steven Zhang has mange Suning International since 2016. As a channel for Suning International’s European growth, he opened the office in Milan in the first half of 2018. In this time, he signed many corporation agreements with Italian trade institutions, brands, and enterprises. For example, he signed a strategic partnership with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) during the China-Italy state visit in March 2019.

Suning has built a global network. It covers Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, Japan, and the US. Under Zhang Jindong’s son and with his guidance and expertise in business and economics, it has been estimated that by 2020, 30% of its revenue will comes from international business approximately.

In 2020, Suning.com is expected to commence the first ever Suning International high-end smart store in Shanghai. It is designed to be a fashion center that gathers overseas luxury brands from all over Europe, Japan, and South Korea.

One of the facts about Zhang is that Under Steven’s management, Suning International has also announced that they have plans to open 150 new stores. These experiential stores are designed to provide a gateway for Chinese consumers to access and be inspired by different lifestyles around the world. Suning International has published that they will be opening in the next three years.

Inter Milan Football Club

During the summer of 2016 Suning bought most of the Inter shares. However, Erick Thohir remained as the chairman. Zhang made big changes during that summer. Despite the previous season's improvements, Roberto Mancini as the manager was sacked. Mancini's replacement was Frank De Boer.

Because of UEFA's Financial Fair play, the club could not have big investment in transfers. Most of the sign-ins were free agent players Like Juan Miranda and Ever Banega. Frank De Boer had a great run in his previous club, Ajax. De Boer won four successive Eredivisie titles with Ajax and he was the first manager ever to achieve this level of success in the Dutch league. There was no sign of winner De Boer In Inter. After a few matches he was fired because of poor results against low ranked teams. 

Stefano Pioli was the next manager for the season. He had a great start and achieved eight consecutive wins. Everything seemed to be ok but some rumors in the press took concentration from Inter. Gossips told that despite the good results of Pioli, the club's management was contacting other managers for the next season. 

Again, Inter's good form turned upside down. Stefano Pioli was sacked too. Third manager was Stefano Vecchi from the Inter's youth team. Vecchi made the youth team champion in Italy' youth league and he was a perfect caretaker for the rest of the season.

Inter finished 7th in Serie A. That was not good at all. But even the 7th rank was mainly achieved by individual performances of captain


and Ivan Perisic.

In the next summer, Inter signed a contract with Luciano Spalletti. Spalletti had a successful season with A.S. Roma. He finished second in the league with 87 points, which is the record for A.S. Roma. Without a super powerful


at the lead, Roma could have been the champion.

It was time for Inter's fresh start. Zhang Jindong was working on Inter's debts and financial balance. Spalletti had new weapons in his hands. Young talented players like


, Roberto Gagliardini and Alessandro Bastoni signed contract with Inter. Borja Valero and Matias Vecino joined from Fiorentina.

Mauro Icardi was on top of his career. He showed no mercy to any goalkeeper. Joao Cancelo was loaned in mid-season, because Inter needed a fast right-back on the pitch. With all these, Inter finished 4th and it meant qualification for the UEFA Champions League after five years of absence. Mauro Icardi was the top scorer of the Serie A with 29 goals.

 2018 was a golden year for Inter. Steven Zhang, Zhang Jindong's son, became chairman of the club. Steven Zhang needed some help due to his lack of experience in Italian football. In a very bold and wise move Inter signed with Giuseppe Marotta, the architect of Juventus current golden team.

With Marotta as CEO of sport, transfers were not a concern anymore. Lautaro Martinez joined Inter only with €23 millions and Stefan de Vrij was a free sign-in. With the help of Inter's Legend Javier Zanetti(vice-president) and Marotta the club was ready for a big jump. Steven Zhang was in the board of the club since 2016. He also took a place on the UEFA Club Competitions Committee. He was the only Asian in the committee.

The new order had some casualties though. Mauro Icardi and his wife Wanda Nara were causing problems outside the field. In the second half of 2018–19, tension got serious especially with Wanda Nara's comments on local TV. She was Icardi's agent and Inter could not tolerate her behavior anymore. At the same time, Lautaro Martinez was on fire and showed amazing performances. The Season ended for inter with the same 4th position as the previous one. 

In 2019 Steven Zhang was nominated as a member of the European Club Association (ECA) Executive Board. Steven Zhang's other notable achievement was 41% increasing of Inter's enterprise value. It is a record for highest growth for any European club. 

Marotta brought his favorite manager Antonio Conte to replace Spalletti. It was an exit sign for the rebellious players like Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic, and Radja Nainggolan. After many years with Zhang's efforts, Inter was out of pressure from UEFA Financial Fair play Regulations. As a result, Marotta was open handed in the transfer market. 

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He transferred top star Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United with €65 million fee, making him the most expensive player Inter ever had. But Marotta used his magic to fill that gap. He signed Christian Eriksen with €20 millions and Diego Godin and Alexis Sanchez joined for free.

Inter experience a great season with Conte and challenged Juventus for the league title. Inter finished second with only one point less than Juve. When the championship heat was risen up, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many problems for football clubs around the world. 

On the march, almost all the matches of the league were postponed except for Inter against Juventus. The match held with no audience on unusual Monday fixture. Inter lost the match and three important points was added to Juventus. As a response, Zhang put out insulting words on his Instagram "You are probably the biggest and darkest clown I have ever seen." His word was pointing at Paolo Dal Pino, the president of Italy's top football league. Steven Zhang blamed him over his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and now faces disciplinary action.

Jiangsu Suning Football Club

Other facts about Zhang Jindong club owning are in the Chinese football. Jiangsu Suning is a professional football club that participates in the Chinese Super League under a license from the Chinese Football Association (CFA). Their owners are the Suning Appliance Group, which is a sister company of Suning.com. The team is based in Nanjing, Jiangsu that Steven Zhang was born in. 

The club was one of the founding members of the first fully professional league in China in 1994. But they faced relegation. At the end of the 2008 season, they won back into the top tier and achieved their best ever league position when they finished champions in the 2020 league season. Jiangsu Suning are the fourth wealthiest football team in China. The team value is USD 144 million and their estimated revenue was about USD 36 million in 2015.

The Suning company and the club’s new owner made the team a success for the first time in their history. In 2015, the Suning appliance Group purchased the team for ¥523 million and changed the club's name. 

A year after that, Jiangsu Suning broke their transfer fee record twice in the same window. Ramirez from Chelsea FC came to the club with a £25 million transfer fee and later Alex Teixeira, the Brazilian player from Shakhtar Donetsk with a fee of £37 million. 

The team had a successful season and finished second in 2016 Chinese Super League and 2016 Chinese FA Cup. It was only their second straight appearance in the finals of the FA Cup. In 2017 they reached the knockout stages of the 2017 AFC Champions League for the first time in their history. However, they missed the Champions League for the next two years, 2018 and 2019, due to their struggles in domestic competitions. In 2020, Jiangsu Suning football club were crowned champions of the Chinese Super League for the first time in their club history. 

Zhang Jindong's net worth

According to Forbes list, Zhang Jindong is 56th richest person in China.  Zhang Jindong's net worth is reported $8.2 billion and he is one of the 200 richest people on earth. In order to have a better view of these numbers, you have to see the last of the facts about Zhang Jindong: Suning Sports Media Group has raised $600 million from companies like Alibaba and Goldman in 2018.

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source: SportMob