Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin is buying a 20% stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid for €45m ($52m; £34m) as he looks to diversify his business empire further.
He heads China’s biggest property company Dalian Wanda, which has been buying up big foreign brands amid a weak domestic real estate market.
This includes US cinema chain AMC and luxury British yachtmaker Sunseeker.
It will be the first Chinese company to invest in a top European football club.
“This investment will not only provide a golden opportunity for young Chinese players sent overseas by Wanda to be selected by leading European football clubs,” Mr Wang said in a statement.
“It will also strengthen the quality of Chinese football and narrow the gap between the rest of the world.”
Who is Wang Jianlin?
- The 60-year-old is ranked China’s second-richest man behind Alibaba boss Jack Ma
- He is worth $13.2bn according to Forbes magazine
- Mr Wang is planning to open up amusement parks in China to rival the likes of Walt Disney and Universal Studios
- He was reportedly in talks over a stake in the Hollywood studio behind the Hunger Games franchise, Lions Gate Entertainment
Last season, Atletico Madrid won the title in Spain’s top football competition La Liga and reached the final of the Uefa Champions League.
However, the club has struggled financially in recent years, accruing more than €500m in debts.
The purchase by Mr Wang, who is one of China’s richest men, could help to bring in new fans from the lucrative Asian markets and Chinese sponsors.
The 60-year-old is known to be a big football fan and owned one of China’s most successful teams from 1994 to 2000.
There has been a growing trend of Asian billionaires buying into indebted or struggling European football clubs.
Malaysian tycoon Vincent Tan owns Welsh club Cardiff City, AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes is chairman of London’s Queen Park Rangers, and Singaporean businessman Peter Lim owns a controlling stake in Spanish team Valencia.