Ironman triathlon has a new backer in the shape of Providence Equity Partners. World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owners of the Ironman brand, and based in Florida and Kona, Hawaii, has sold to Providence and transferred its equity to a new corporation called World Endurance Holdings. The purchase price was not disclosed, although it is understood that the price tag is between US$50 million to US$80 million (€37 million to €59 million).
WTC originally purchased the Ironman triathlon from Valerie Silk in 1989, and has grown the brand under various organisation Presidents: David Voth, David Yates, Lew Friedland and most recently Ben Fertic. The new company’s headquarters will be in Tampa Bay, Florida, and the Ironman race office shall remain in Kona.
"Providence is excited about the opportunity to support WTC and is pleased to be working with CEO Ben Fertic to further grow the business," said a spokesman for Providence Equity. "We look forward to building on its tremendous success as the leading user-based sports brand in the World. We’re supportive of management’s current strategy and will provide financial and strategic resources to support Ironman’s plans in the US and abroad."
With the addition of the Ironman 70.3 Series, Ironman now has more than 50 qualifying events worldwide. Supported by partners that include Ford Motor Company, Dell, Timex and Gatorade, Ironman has been a respected name in triathlon since its inception in 1978. More than 80,000 athletes compete for slots to the Ford Ironman World Championship held every October in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 held every November in Clearwater, Florida. The Ironman brand has been featured in a range of media outlets including NBC, CNN Headline News, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and USA Today.
Providence Equity is a large private equity firm with total committed capital of US$22 billion (€16 billion). It specializes in media and entertainment, with notable holdings in television. Providence Equity acquired Clear Channel Communications’ Television Group for approximately US$1.012 billion (€0.74 billion) earlier this year. It also owns a variety of cable providers, as well as Univision, the largest Spanish network in the US. The firm owns Warner Music, and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) brand alongside a range of other media investments.
"Providence’s expertise in building and growing innovative, industry leading companies will be an exceptional fit with our long term goals," added Fertic. "We appreciate their commitment to our unique culture, and helping us meet the increasing demands for a world class participatory events."