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Atletico Madrid sell stake in Lens a year on from their investment

Raf Honigstein still expects Antoine Griezmann to join Barcelona this summer even after the club were reported for illegally approaching the Atletico Madrid forward.

Atletico Madrid have sold their share in Ligue 2 side Lens just 12 months after making the investment.

Atletico bought 34.6 percent of Lens in July 2016, in a move overseen by the French bankruptcy courts, which also saw Luxembourg-based company Solferino become majority shareholders at a club which had been through the financial mill in recent years.

The 18 months since have seen little public connection between the two clubs, and Atletico have now announced that they have sold their share to Solferino chief Joseph Oughourlian, as they continue to scale back global expansion plans which were an initial part of their tie-up with Chinese backers Wanda.

"Solferino and Atletico Madrid have reached an agreement for the Luxemburger company to acquire the 34.6 percent of Racing Club de Lens, which our club had owned," an Atletico statement read.

"I am happy to be able to announce the sealing of this agreement, which confirms the renewal of our commitment to a mythic club like Lens," Oughourlian told Lens' website.

"I want to thank Atletico Madrid who have been at our side as a strategic and trusted partner."

Atletico Madrid had bought 34.6 percent of Lens in July 2016.

Reports in the French media say that the Atletico board member Ignacio Aguillo, who played his part in the La Liga outfit first getting involved in the deal, has also recently ended his connection with Lens.

El Pais says that Atletico's initial investment was €5.6 million in 2016, when Solferino replaced Azerbaijani oligarch Hafiz Mammadov as Lens' principal owner.

The exit came a day after Atletico's 2017 annual general meeting, when the club's hierarchy announced a €5m profit for 2016-17 and said they expected record revenue of €347m for the current season.

Also officially confirmed at the AGM was the sale of 15 percent of Atletico's shares to Quantum Pacific Group for €50m, a move which had been announced in November.

The La Liga club ended their three-year involvement with Indian outfit Atletico Kolkata, with their previous 25 percent stake being bought out by the West Bengal club's principal owner Sanjiv Goenka.

In March, Atletico took a 50 percent share in Liga MX side Atletico San Luis, although few concrete details have emerged of that relationship.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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