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Wanda to sell Ironman for US$730 million

Wanda to sell Ironman for US$730 million
March 27, 2020

Wanda Sports Group has announced it has entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement to sell its Ironman business to USA-based media company, Advance Publications, owner of publisher Condé Nast.

The all-cash transaction values the triathlon business, which is comprised of a global portfolio of mass participation sports events across triathlon, running, trail running, cycling and mountain biking, at US$730 million.

As part of the takeover, private equity company Orkila Capital is to co-invest in Ironman, with Orkila Managing Partner Jesse Du Bey to re-join the Ironman board of directors.

Du Bey was previously managing director at Providence Equity Partners and led the private equity firm’s investment in Ironman 12 years ago.

The sale, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

Wanda said it intends to use the net proceeds from the sale to repay the principal amount of US$230 million and related interest and fees of a Credit Suisse term loan and US$50 million outstanding under a promissory note issued to Wanda Sports & Media, the Hong Kong-based holding company.

Wanda Sports Group (WSG) said it intends to use all, or a substantial portion, of the balance from the proceeds to fund dividends or share buy-backs, subject to shareholder approval.

The Chinese firm, part of billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group, bought Ironman in 2015 from Providence Equity Partners for US$650 million, plus the assumption of debt. The company was left disappointed in the middle of last year as its debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange raised a total IPO of US$190.4 million, down sharply on initial targets.

Shares in WSG, which have suffered in recent weeks as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic continues to take effect, but have rallied this week.

New York-based company Advanced Publications’ portfolio of companies includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, American City Business Journals, the Leaders Group, Turnitin, 1010data, and POP.

Advance is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Discovery and Reddit.

Commenting on the sale, Hengming Yang, WSG President and Chief Executive, stated “this transaction represents a great outcome for both parties. Advance is acquiring the world’s largest organiser of mass participation sports events and a portfolio of brands synonymous with excellence, and we will unlock significant value for our shareholders.”

Wanda has retained the rights to operate the Chinese stops on the Ironman, Ironman 70.3, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and Epic Series circuits under an exclusive licensing agreement.

Andrew Messick, Ironman President and Chief Executive, added “we thank Wanda Sports Group for its support over the past four years and are proud of what we have accomplished together. We look forward to continuing our work in China with Wanda Sports Group in the coming years. Further, we are excited to join forces with Advance and benefit from its breadth of expertise as we continue to deliver the exceptional experiences for which we are known.”

Advance said that it is “committed to the future of The Ironman Group and believes in the long-term strength of its well-recognised brands and the dedication of its athletes, communities, employees and fans”.

WSG said in a statement that it will continue to operate three business segments - mass participation; spectator sports and digital, production and sports solutions (DPSS).

In September last year, the Professional Triathletes Organisation launched an ambitious bid to acquire the series and WSG’s wider mass participation business. This was rebuffed by WSG and the World Triathlon Corporation, which organises the events.

Related Articles

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5th January 2018 - New three-year deal signed for IRONMAN Western Australia

30th December 2017 - Ironman World Championship looks to 40 year anniversary

1st February 2017 - International Triathlon Union and Ironman agree ‘historic’ development partnership

20th July 2017 - Second buyer joins Wanda asset sale as expansion hit by Chinese foreign investment halt

10th July 2017 - Dalian Wanda Group sells US$9.3 billion of tourism assets

27th April 2017 - Dalian Wanda adds the world’s major marathon events to its sporting portfolio

8th September 2016 - US-based media interests confirm US$4.4 billion acquisition of Formula 1

27th July 2016 - Wanda Group aims to triple entertainment and sport revenue by 2020

11th July 2016 - Consortium buys UFC for US$4 billion

2nd April 2016 - IRONMAN 70.3 races to be held in China

21st March 2016 - Wanda Group partners with FIFA

16th February 2016 - ACTIVE Network marks 16 years of powering IRONMAN

2nd January 2016 - Wanda Sports to establish global base in Guangzhou

26th November 2015 - Dalian Wanda unveils Wanda Sports Group

11th September 2015 - Dalian Wanda buys Ironman triathlon group for US$650 million

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