Indonesian Trillionaires on the World Football Stage


Djarum Owned Five Years, Como 1907 Returned to the Italian Serie A League

Indonesia’s football achievement is not yet worldwide. However, Indonesian billionaires have long been involved as club shareholders in Europe. Although it is clear they have a business motive, they also participate in promoting Indonesia’s name on the world football stage. This is the phenomenon of the richest people in the country owning football clubs in Europe.

The success of the Italian football club, Como 1907 in climbing to the highest caste of the Italian league, Serie A, in recent days has suddenly become the talk of the town not only among football fans, but also entrepreneurs in Indonesia. In fact, this club is not as famous as other European clubs, such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus.

Not because this team has the best footballers in the world or because the club’s location is famous for the beauty of Lake Como which is a tourist destination in “pizza country”. However, because this club is owned by the Djarum group, a business conglomeration group of one of the richest people in Indonesia, namely the Hartono brothers.

The Djarum Group’s ownership of Como 1907 began in 2019. Quoting The Athletic, Djarum spent 850,000 euros (Rp. 14 billion) and paid off the entire debt of 150,000 euros (Rp. 2.6 billion) to take over Como . At that time Como was slumped in Serie D or Italy’s fourth caste league due to bankruptcy and failure to pay off debts in 2017.

The financial injection from the Djarum Group had an impact on Como’s performance, which immediately rose to Serie C or the third tier of the Italian league that year. Now, after five years have passed, Como has successfully risen to Serie A. Their last appearance in Serie A was in the 2002/2003 season or 21 years ago.

From being redeemed for approximately Rp 14 billion, now, citing Transfermrkt as of May 14, 2024, the valuation of Como 1907 has skyrocketed multiple times to Rp 698.74 billion.

Although their club has just joined Serie A, the wealth of the Hartono brothers immediately skyrocketed, making them the number one owner of the richest club in Italy. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index as of May 13, 2024, Budi Hartono’s wealth reached 22 billion US dollars, placing him at number 86 on the world’s richest people list. Meanwhile, his family member Michael Hartono is recorded as having a wealth of 20.4 billion US dollars, putting him at number 96 on the world’s richest people list. Budi and Michael are noted as the 3rd and 4th wealthiest Indonesians on that list.

The amount of wealth owned by the Hartono brothers exceeds the wealth of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s family, which reached 6.8 billion US dollars. Berlusconi now owns the AC Monza club after being known as the owner of AC Milan.


The CEO of Como 1907 introduced Thierry Henry (right) as the newest minority shareholder and brand ambassador of the club in Como, Italy, on Monday (29/8/2022).

The Hartono brothers are not the first Indonesians to own a Serie A club. Previously, Erick Thohir owned Inter Milan in 2013-2016.

Quoting Forbes, Erick bought 70 percent share ownership in Inter Milan for 250 million euros in 2013. He was appointed president of the club in the black and blue uniform.

Six years later, Erick sold his shares in Inter Milan to a Chinese conglomerate group for 350 million euros. This means that Erick is estimated to have made a profit of around 100 million euros from the ownership transaction in Inter Milan.

Apart from the Hartono brothers and Erick, there are also Indonesian entrepreneurs who are active club owners in Europe. One of them is Sofjan Wanandi, who owns the club Tranmere Rovers which is currently competing in League Two or the fourth caste of the English League.


Inter Milan’s Vice President Javier Zanetti took a photo with Inter Milan supporters during the launch of the Inter Academy Indonesia (IAI) socialization event. The photo was taken on February 14, 2018.

Also read: The story of Djarum saving Como and promotion to Serie A

Business interests

University of Indonesia economist, Fithra Faisal, explains that the reasons why Indonesian billionaires own European football clubs are diverse. Aside from their love of sports, we must not forget that they are ultimately business people seeking opportunities for profit in the European football industry.

He gave an example of Erick Thohir who seemed to be seeking a profit margin in buying and selling stocks. Erick bought Inter Milan at a relatively cheap price because the club was struggling financially and its valuation was low. After being bought and improved by Erick, Inter Milan’s financial condition and valuation improved. When a Chinese investor wanted to offer a higher price for Inter Milan than when Erick bought it, he released his ownership.

Regarding Djarum, Fithra, who is also a football fan, said that the market potential and profits of Como can still grow. The Djarum Group can benefit from sponsoring and broadcasting rights for Italian Serie A. In addition, they also have a subsidiary that is engaged in European football cable television broadcasts, Mola TV.

Regardless of various materials that they obtained, the existence of Indonesian billionaires as owners of clubs in Europe indirectly brings the name of Indonesia to the world stage.

“The world can judge, wow, there is an Indonesian businessman who owns a club in the highest caste of the European league. Indonesians are also powerful, you know! “Indonesia’s name can also be raised,” he said, contacted on Tuesday (14/5/2024).

Fithra added that their reason for choosing to buy European clubs was because the football industry in the country did not develop. The management of the league is still chaotic, making the valuation of clubs and the local football industry stagnate. However, with millions of people, the majority of whom are football enthusiasts, Indonesia has great potential as a football industry.

In line with Fithra, sports observer Fritz Simanjuntak stated that European football competitions are relatively held in a sporting and accountable manner. This is different from the situation in Indonesia which is still closely associated with the existence of mafia.

“The football competition environment and ecosystem in Europe is already very good. The competition is clearly executed. So, it is attracting wealthy entrepreneurs to invest there,” said Fritz.

He added that the entry of the Djarum Group as the owner of a football club can also be viewed as an effort by the group to transform its corporate image from a cigarette company to a multi-business conglomerate.

“So, their motivation for entering this industry is not just cash value, but there are various other potentially valuable intangible values,” he said.

Sports indeed have an extraordinary attraction, including from an economic aspect. This has become a sweet lure that attracts billionaires to enter this industry.

Also read: Como 1907’s Tactical Plan in Serie A and Ambitions for Indonesian Football

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