Wang Jianlin (M), chairman of the Dalian Wanda property group, together with Atletico Madrid CEO Gil Marin (L) and club president Enrique Cerezo (R), hold a jersey which features Wang's name on the back at a signing ceremony in Beijing on Jan 21, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
Wanda Group has become the official owner of 20% of Spanish La Liga champions Atletico Madrid on Tuesday in a trend where the Chinese start to insert their influence in international soccer.
The club announced on its website that the company Wanda Madrid Investment, which is part of the corporate conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, Tuesday subscribed 726,707 shares, representative of 20 percent of the club's share capital, for which they have paid 44.98 million euros, at 61,90 euros per share.
At their meeting, the club's board of directors has implemented the capital increase that was agreed upon by the Extraordinary General Shareholders Meeting celebrated the past February 24, thus finishing all the process that was made official in January in Beijing.
"Wanda Group is delighted with the possibility of contributing to the growth of Atletico de Madrid and the development of its brand in Asia, as well as being able to rely on their extraordinary experience in the training area, which no doubt will be very useful in the growth of base football in China." said Wang Jianlin, Chairman of Wanda Group.
Wanda's move was among a wave of Chinese capital flowing to top European clubs.
Also in January, China's United Vansen International Sports Corporation made it public that they had almost finished the purchase of Dutch club Alles Door Oefening Den Haag.
Early in February, Dalian Wanda made a second daring move in three weeks by acquiring Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media in a deal valued at about 1.05 billion euros.
Then came the news of a Hong Kong listed electrical components manufacturer, Tech Pro Technology Development company, in the middle of negotiation to buy French club Sochaux from the Peugeot car company.
"I believe those investments in sports industry and European football clubs are related to the deepening reform of football and sports in China," said Lu Hao, chairman of D & F Capital Management Co. LTD.
China's central reform group, captained by Chinese President Xi Jinping, has approved a plan to revive the "beautiful game" in the most populous country.
"We must develop and revitalize football to ensure we are a strong nation of sports," said the statement which was issued after a meeting of the central reform leading group.
In the soccer reform and development plan, Chinese soccer clubs and companies are urged to send young players abroad training with top clubs. So is one of Wanda's goals. Ninety young players aged between 11 and 13 have been picked by Wanda and now training in Spain.
Wanda, founded in 1988 and known for its real estate success, has started to shift its focus to service, entertainment and tourism while sport is going to weigh in Wanda's transformation.
Wanda had owned China's top professional team Dalian Wanda but sold the club in 2000 over disillusionment with a league rife with corruption and scandals.