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Rafael Nadal’s Soccer Club Stake Lures German Investor Claassen

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Utz Claassen
Utz Claassen increased his share in Real Mallorca to 20 percent. Photographer: Michael Latz/AFP/Getty Images

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Former Solar Millennium AG chief executive Utz Claassen is seeking help from German tourists to boost the fortunes of Spanish soccer team Real Mallorca after buying tennis player Rafael Nadal’s stake.

Claassen increased his share in the team to 20 percent on Dec. 19 when he bought the interest of Nadal, No. 2 in the ATP World Tour rankings, and his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal.

Claassen, 48, is betting Real Mallorca, which is exiting bankruptcy protection, can boost revenue by luring more of the 10 million annual visitors, many of them German, to the Spanish island where it’s based.

“If we can get just 2 percent of the tourists to come we will fill the stadium for every single game,” Claassen said by telephone from Hanover, Germany.

Real Mallorca, which typically attracts 14,000 spectators to its 24,000-seat stadium for games, has signed an accord with TUI AG, the German owner of Europe’s largest travel company, to offer tickets to its clients, Claassen said.

Claassen resigned as CEO of Erlangen, Germany-based Solar Millennium, a developer of solar-thermal power project, after less than three months last year and is involved in litigation with the company over a 9 million-euro ($12 million) signing-on bonus. He is chairman of biochemical company Syntellix AG.

The Nadals, who come from Mallorca, bought their combined 10 percent stake in the team last year when Miguel Angel was appointed as assistant coach. He left that role in October.

Rafael Nadal’s spokesman Benito Perez-Barbadillo didn’t immediately return an e-mail and phone call seeking comment on their decision to sell the stake.

Real Mallorca’s other main shareholders are Jaume Cladera, a former tourism minister for the regional government, and ex-Barcelona coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer.

The club, 14th in the 20-team La Liga, agreed to a deal with creditors on Dec. 13 to pay back 40 million euros of debt. It cut payroll by as much as 30 percent in the year to June 30, when it had net income of 11 million euros, compared to a 16 million-euro loss for the previous year, Claassen said.

Other teams in La Liga that obtained bankruptcy protection are Rayo Vallecano, Real Betis, Real Zaragoza and Racing Santander.

Spanish teams “need to improve stadium infrastructure and have to stop taking crazy financial risks,” Claassen said. “Real Mallorca will not go back to that.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net

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