While China’s market might have crashed, the Dalian Wanda Group has announced its plans to buy out the organization that owns not only the brand of the Ironman triathlon, but also its race series.
The world’s biggest cinema chain operator released a statement on August 27 that the Dalian Wanda Group will be paying a whopping $650 million for World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), based in Tampa, Florida. Providence Equity Corporation also reported that they reached a decision to vend the Ironman triathlon series for $650 million, plus assumption of debt.
A source with knowledge of the event said that the deal was actually worth $900 million and represented a quadrupling of the parent company’s investment in the World Triathlon Corporation.
Providence acquired WTC in 2008 and upgraded it from just licensing the Ironman brand to owning and operating its races. And since then, the number of races it controls has increased at an exponential rate to over 200. The workforce of WTC also multiplied to a massive 250 from an original team of only ten.
Andrew Messick, Chief Executive of WTC, revealed that he will retain his position and that the company would also remain in Tampa.
A spokesman for Wanda Group said, “Only around 100 Chinese athletes have ever competed in the Ironman. That will change.” Wanda is planning to host the event in China itself in the coming years, which is notable considering that the race has taken place in about 20 different countries before, but has never been in China.
Chairman of the company and one of China’s richest figures, Wang Jianlian, remarked that Wanda aims to change the fact that Europe and America basically own the athletic arena. They claim that the Ironman’s purchase would bring a “top international competition to China for the first time.”
This acquisition is one of the many sports investments made by Wanda—other venture include Swiss marketing company Infront Sports & Media and a high stake in Spain’s Football Club, Atletico Madrid.
Helliker, K., “Ironman to Be Acquired by China’s Dalian Wanda,” The Wall Street Journal web site, August 26, 2015; http://goo.gl/55vdLb.
“China’s Dalian Wanda buys Ironman triathlon brand for $650M,” YAHOO! Sports web site, August 26, 2015; http://goo.gl/aPBBE8.