China’s Dalian Wanda Group is reported to be considering a Hong Kong stock exchange listing for its sports assets, according to Reuters. Wanda Group is one of China’s leading private conglomerates and China’s largest investor in the cultural and entertainment sector. It is the owner of IRONMAN, alongside the sports marketing agency Infront as well as an extensive endurance sport event portfolio through its Wanda Sports Holding business unit.
The news report by Reuters indicates that an initial public offering (IPO) is being considered ‘as part of efforts to rationalize [the group’s] portfolio that could also include other sales, according to five people familiar with the situation.’
Reuters adds that the IPO of Wanda’s sports assets would include Infront and World Triathlon Corp (WTC), the organizer and promoter of the IRONMAN brand, ‘according to three of the people’ (unnamed sources to the story).
Wanda’s businesses operations have reportedly been rattled in the past year by a ‘government-led crackdown on overseas deals and high leverage’. The Chinese government is understood to have flagged certain overseas deals as ‘irrational’ with Wanda reportedly seen to be over-reaching its debt portfolio.
In the past few years, World Triathlon Corp/IRONMAN has been notably acquisitive, particularly up to the summer of 2017:
- In June 2017, IRONMAN acquired 100% of Competitor Group Holdings (CGI), owner of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, in a move that established IRONMAN as the ‘largest running event producer in the world’.
- IRONMAN already owns or operates more than 20 running races worldwide, including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, ASB Auckland Marathon, Marathon Bordeaux and Across the Bay 10K.
- Alongside the delivery of premier marathons, IRONMAN has, over the years, moved into road cycling events including the UCI Velothon Majors Series, as well as mountain bike events such as the Absa Cape Epic, and Cape to Cape and Port to Port MTB races.