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Chinese billionaire buys 20% stake in Atletico Madrid

(Xinhua)    13:31, January 21, 2015

BEIJING, Jan. 21 -- Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin has bought 20 percent stake in Spanish league champions Atletico Madrid, Wanda Group announced on Wednesday.

The real estate tycoon closed the deal with Atletico chairman Enrique Cerezo in Beijing. According to the contract, Wang will pay 52 million U.S. dollars for the stake, which is set to ease the Spanish outfit's debt burdens.

The deal involved opening three Atletico Madrid football schools in China, sponsorship deals and a possible tour by the club to China later this year. Also, Dalian Wanda owner Wang and Atletico will combine to invest 34 million dollars for a youth center in Madrid to foster Chinese soccer talent.

Now, Wanda Group is funding a youth training project which already brought 90 young Chinese players to Spain and the number is expected to reach 180 in 2017.

Wang, ranked 42nd in Forbes' list with his fortune estimated at around 18 billion dollars, said his cooperation with Atletico is based on friendship with the club's chiefs and his own dream to raise the game of young Chinese players.

"What we are doing is to raise the level of Chinese game," said Wang. "Hopefully, three to five among those 90 young players will play for top European clubs in the future and in five years, Spain-trained players will fill the Chinese team in the Asian Cup."

Wang was once owner of the Dalian Wanda football team in then Chinese first division league, the predecessor of the current Chinese Super League, but sold the club in 2000 over disillusionment with a league rife with corruption and scandals.

In 2011, Wang returned to Chinese soccer as a sponsor of the Super League. And he started investing widely in major European cities.

Wang raised 3.7 billion US dollars last month by floating a chunk of his Wanda stock on the Hong Kong stock market.

Wang has been the latest major foreign investor to enter Spain's football market. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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