What has been rumored for the past few days has come to fruition. Chinese businessman Wang Jianlin, owner of the Dalian Wanda Group, now owns 20% of Atletico Madrid shares after investing a reported 45 million euros (£35 million) in the reigning champions of Spain. With his investment, the owner of the Wanda Group becomes the club’s third-largest shareholder and his group becomes the first Chinese company to invest in a top European football club.
The official announcement was made today in a luxury hotel in Beijing with Mr. Wang accompanied by Atletico’s chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin and president Enrique Cerezo.
“Wanda’s investment in Atletico de Madrid is another step in our efforts to build a comprehensive entertainment portfolio for our domestic and international clients,” Mr. Wang said. “We are delighted with the possibility of contributing to the growth of Atletico de Madrid with its solid fan base and a brand that is rapidly expanding internationally. We will also rely on their great experience in the training area, which will no doubt be very useful for the growth of grassroots football in China.”
Although Gil Marin and Cerezo will still control the daily management of the club – since they own 72% of the shares – Mr. Wang will participate in decisions and people he trusts will work closely with club officials.
“This is a major step for the club in its efforts to build a leading global brand,” Miguel Angel Gil Marin said earlier today.
The investment will help provide Atletico with the capital increase that it needs in order to comply with the economic regulations that are imposed upon the club by the LFP (Spanish football).
The Dalian Wanda Group will open doors of the Asian market to Atletico and will represent a significant leap for the club’s future in the international market. The Spanish champions will now be able to expand commercial and sponsorship relationships with major firms in China.
The company is a leading Chinese conglomerate operating in sectors such as entertainment, hotels and real estate with an extensive footprint in its domestic market and strong growth in Europe and the United States.
The Dalian Wanda Group has been buying up big foreign brands due to weak domestic real estate in China. Their purchases include the US movie chain AMC and luxury British yachtmaker Sunseeker.
With total assets over $62 billion, annual revenues exceeding $30 billion and net profits in excess of $2 billion, Wanda Group is the largest Chinese company in the entertainment industry and one of the largest worldwide.
Programming note: The first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinal between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will be shown LIVE today starting at 3:55pm EST on beINSPORTS and DishWorld.
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