Sold: China’s richest man buys Madrid landmark

China's richest man Wang Jianlin has bought a historic Madrid skyscraper which has stood empty for years from Spain's biggest bank Santander for €265 million ($360 million), the bank said on Thursday.

Sold: China's richest man buys Madrid landmark
The Spain building, completed in 1953 under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, dominates one end of the Plaza de España square in western Madrid. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

The 25-story tower of offices and apartments, completed in 1953 under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, dominates one end of the Plaza de Espana square in western Madrid.

It has stood empty since 2006, a symbol of the 2008 real estate collapse that thrust Spain into a double recession that wiped out millions of jobs.

Spanish officials had expressed hope that the sale of the building would breathe new life into the neighbourhood, a key part of the city.

Santander said it sold the white and red brick Edificio España to Renville Invest, a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda which is chaired by Wang.

The bank paid €389 million for the red and white brick building in 2007, just before Spain's decade-long building boom went bust, but in a statement it said the impact of the sale on its results and capital would be "immaterial".

Wang, formerly a senior member of China's ruling Communist Party, was ranked the richest man in China and 26th richest in the world, with personal wealth estimated at $14 billion, business magazine Forbes reported in February.

In 2012 he bought US cinema chain AMC Entertainment.

Madrid mayor Ana Botella announced on Wednesday she would allow public buildings in the capital to be privatized and converted into shops and offices.

These include national broadcaster RTVE's Torreespaña buildings and Civil Guard barracks in the city. 

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How to celebrate Chinese New Year in Madrid

With a Chinese population estimated at 62,000, Madrid is full of celebrations for the Year of The Rat.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year in Madrid
Photo: Ayuntamiento de Madrid

The barrio of Usera is the hub of celebrations this weekend as it is home to a large Chinese community in Madrid.

Centred around Plaza Junta Distrito Usera where a huge stage had been set up there will be performances, workshops, food trucks starting from Friday at 5pm as well as sculptures including a giant panda.

Workshops include face painting for children, chinese chess (xiangqi) and storytelling as well as theatre shows, a market and musical concerts.

On Friday night the Chinese-born influencer Yon Li will kick off the party on a stage set up in Plaza Junta Distrito Usera where there will be diverse rap and pop artists playing until 10pm.

On the same stage on Saturday there are concerts for kids during the day followed by music in the evening.

At 6pm on Saturday head to Parque Pradolongo for a Light show and on Sunday in Parque Olof Palme there is a display of acrobatics by the Chinese circus.

But the celebrations aren’t confined to the Usera district.

Madrid’s Puerta de Alcala will be lit up especially for the Chinese New Year on Friday and Saturday and Chinese restaurants across the city are offering special New Year tasting menus. Check out the list here:

For a full list of events and activities take a look at the official programme.

Happy New Year!