China’s second-richest man Wang Jianlin recently announce that he is buying a 20 percent stake in Spanish soccer team Atletico Madrid. According to the deal, Dalian Wanda Group will initially invest 45 million euros ($52 million) for the Atletico stake.
As the first investment by a Chinese company in a top European soccer club, this deal makes Wang one of the club’s biggest shareholders. However, the stake owned by Wang is not sold from the current shareholders but from the expansion of the shares by the Spanish champion.
“If you use the language of soccer – we have kicked the ball to the Spanish side,” Wang said. Wang also indicated that he is interested in adding more soccer clubs to his collection. According to British newspaper the Daily Mirror reported early 2014, Wang may make a bid for English Premier League club Southampton.
The investment of Atletico Madrid is only the first step for Wang, in fact, he has a grand blueprint. According to a statement announcing the agreement,
Wanda and Atletico will each invest 15 million euros to build a training center for young soccer players in Madrid and will open three soccer schools in China. The soccer club will also play matches in China each year after the deal.
In addition to its major real estate business, Wang is a passionate supporter of soccer in China. He helped the city of Dalian’s government set up Dalian Wanda Football Club in 1994. Some industrial expert noted that the purchase of well-known soccer club in Span will help boost Wanda’s brand recognition. Also, as the Chinese real estate market becomes more competitive, Wang is trying to “reduce risks by tapping into other industries and countries.”