Israeli Billionaire in Talks to Buy Stake in Atletico Madrid Soccer Club

Idan Ofer is seeking up to a 15% stake in the Spanish club at valuation that could reach 700 million euros

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Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann controls the ball during a match against Qarabag FK in Baku, Azerbaijan, October 18, 2017.
Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann controls the ball during a match against Qarabag FK in Baku, Azerbaijan, October 18, 2017.Credit: DAVID MDZINARISHVILI/REUTERS

Idan Ofer, the Israeli billionaire who controls The Israel Corporation and Kenon Holdings, is in advanced talks to acquire a stake in the Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid. The deal values the team at between 500 million and 700 million euros ($590 million-$826 million).

Ofer is in negotiations to buy between 10% and 15% of the club, which in terms of the number of titles it has won over the years – the last time in 2014 – makes it the third most successful club in Spanish football, behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Atletico called a news conference for Thursday to make an “institutional announcement.” The club could not immediately be reached for comment.

Atletico Madrid is 52%-owned by Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, the club’s CEO. Two other 20% stakes are controlled by Enrique Cerezo, its president, and by Wanda Group, the Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate.

Wanda acquired its stake in March 2015 at a 220-million euro valuation, but since then Atletico Madrid has built a new stadium, the $260 million Wanda Metropolitano, which has a capacity of 68,000.

According to the club’s accounts as of June 30, 2016, Atletico has a debt of 483 million euros with 218 million euros in revenue and core profit of 24.3 million euros. The club aims to reduce their debt with the sale of the land from their former stadium, the Vicente Calderon, which closed in May.

Atletico Madrid already has an Israeli connection: Plus500, an Israeli company that offers contracts for difference and other online retail-trading services, is a team sponsor. The company, which is traded on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM platform, renewed its sponsorship agreement last January and is reportedly paying between 10 million and 15 million euros annually for the rights.

News about the Atletico Madrid talks comes just three days after an Ofer company, Pacific Drilling, which provides oil-drilling services, filed for Chapter 11 protection against creditors in the United States. Ofer has a 71% stake in the company, which has debt of $3 billion.

Ofer has had a mixed record with new ventures. In addition to Pacific Drilling, Israel Corporation and Kenon sustained big losses from their investment in the Chinese automaker Qoros and from the 2013 collapse of electric-vehicle startup Better Place, in which Israel Corporation invested $293 million.

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