Israeli Billionaire Idan Ofer Makes Progress in Bid to Buy Stake in Atletico Madrid Soccer Club

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Idan Ofer in Geneva, Switzerland on March 6, 2013
Idan Ofer in Geneva, Switzerland on March 6, 2013Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo said on Thursday the Liga club have launched a rights offering with the financial input of “an important Israeli multinational,” who will purchase a 15 percent stake for 50 million euros (£44.6 million).

Cerezo is the club’s majority shareholder along with chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin, and after the rights issue their share will fall from 72.5 percent to 65 percent.

The stake held by Chinese conglomerate Wanda, which owns the naming rights of the club’s new 67,000-capacity stadium the Wanda Metropolitano will fall from 20 percent to 17, although they will still be the second largest shareholder in the club.

Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain on Sep 26, 2017Credit: Francisco Seco/AP

Cerezo added that minority shareholders, who hold three percent in the club, will maintain their stake.

According to reports in the Israeli media, the new investment group is led by billionaire Idan Ofer, 62, estimated to be worth $2.6 billion.

“We’ve spent almost a year speaking to investors who want to buy shares in the club, and this morning the board approved the incorporation of 15 percent of an important company, a multinational,” Cerezo told radio station Onda Cero on Thursday.

“It’s an important Israeli group that among other businesses deals in oil and it is the one that interested the most of all the groups we dealt with. They are going to pay 50 million (euros) for 15 percent.”

Atletico, who in 2016 had debts of 483 million euros, are under renewed financial pressure after relocating from the Vicente Calderon to their new arena in September, a move Cerezo has said cost the club 310 million euros.

The club also splurged a combined 95 million euros in the summer on signing Spain internationals Diego Costa and Vitolo, who are not eligible to play until Atletico’s ban on registering new players for the illegal transfer of minors ends on Jan. 1.

Israeli trading platform Plus 500 have sponsored Atletico’s shirt since 2015, paying 42.5 million euros over four years, according to the club’s accounts.

Atletico are the third most successful club in Spanish football, with 10 Liga titles and 10 King’s Cups to their name.

In 2014, they broke Real Madrid and Barcelona’s nine-year stranglehold on the Liga trophy and reached the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016, losing both times to neighbors Real.

They are currently fourth in the standings on 23 points, eight adrift of leaders Barcelona, and host bitter local rivals Real on Saturday in the first city derby at Wanda Metropolitano.

According to the club’s accounts as of June 30, 2016, Atletico has revenues of 218 million euros and core profit of 24.3 million.

A big chunk of the club’s debt is guaranteed by Cerezo and Marin. The club is planning to reduce the debt with the sale of land of the site of their former Vicente Calderon stadium.

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