Wang Jianlin, China’s wealthiest real estate developer, has already diversified into movie theatres and theme parks, and now the billionaire mall builder may be making his next big deal on the soccer pitch.
According to reports in the international press today, Wang, who already owns one of Madrid’s best known architectural landmarks, will be spending about €40 million ($46.34 million) to take a 20 percent stake in La Liga club Atletico Madrid.
The property developer is flush with cash, and confidence, after completing a $3.7 billion IPO of his commercial property firm last month, and has already made a number of other flashy investments, including a Picasso and a British yacht builder.
Deal to Be Announced in Beijing This Week
According to an account in Reuters, Wang’s purchase of the stake in Madrid’s second-ranked club (after Real Madrid) is to be announced on Wednesday in Beijing.
The former military officer, who accumulated a personal fortune estimated by Forbes at $13.2 billion by building more than 100 shopping malls across China, also formerly was the owner of China’s Dalian Shide football club. The now defunct team was merged with a rival Dalian squad in 2012.
Latest Flashy Investment for Wanda’s Leader
Buying a share of a famous European sports club fits Wang Jianlin’s taste for high profile investments.
In June 2013, Dalian Wanda agreed to acquire Britain’s Sunseeker yacht company for $486 million, and just a few months later the then still privately held firm spent $28.2 million to buy Picasso’s “Claude et Paloma” at auction in New York.
Wang also blazed a trail in foreign investment by Chinese property companies in 2012 when Wanda bought US theatre chain AMC for $2.6 billion, and last year famously flew dozens of Hollywood stars to Qingdao for the opening of his new movie studio there.
The Atletico purchase will also help Wang to outshine rival billionaires Jack Ma of Alibaba and Xu Jiayin of Evergrande Real Estate, who co-own Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande.
During 2014, Wang made his first deal in Spain by acquiring the historic Edificio Espana skyscraper from Grupo Santander for €260 million ($358.6 million). For its own part, Atletico already has some times to China through Huawei’s sponsorship of the La Liga team.
Part of Wang’s Diversification Scheme?
Although Wang Jianlin made his fortune in mainland real estate, Dalian Wanda has been diversifying aggressively since its purchase of AMC, as the billionaire seems determined to make both his company and himself household names.
Wanda has become one of China’s most aggressive overseas investors by picking up development projects in Australia, London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Late last month Wanda announced that it would be trying its hand at ecommerce by acquiring online payment provider 99Bill, and the company is also investing in a series of theme parks which it says will rival Disney.