Wanda Sports to sell Ironman triathlon business to Advance for $730m

Photo: Bloomberg

Wanda Sports Group Co. agreed to sell its Ironman triathlon business to Advance Publications Inc., owner of the media company Conde Nast, for $730 million in cash.

The announcement, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report, comes after dozens of Ironman events were postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has canceled sporting events globally.

The company usually runs more than 235 events a year in more than 50 countries.

“We remain confident in our future; our focus and objectives are unchanged, and we are ready to face the opportunities and challenges ahead,” Ironman President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Messick said in a statement Thursday.

Wanda Sports’s U.S.-traded shares jumped 41% to close at $2.80 on Thursday, giving the company a market value of about $383 million. The stock has lost about two-thirds of its value since its initial public offering last July.

Wanda Sports said last month that it was engaging in discussions on a potential sale of its Ironman business. As part of a $240 million term loan announced March 19, a lender could demand repayment of half of the outstanding amount if an agreement to sell Ironman wasn’t signed within eight months.

The deal announced Thursday has no financing condition and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020.

Privately controlled Advance has been looking to diversify its holdings away from advertising, and acquired plagiarism-detection software maker Turnitin last year. It’s also a large shareholder in Charter Communications Inc., Discovery Inc. and Reddit Inc., according to its website.

Ironman has changed hands several times in the past few years. Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. paid $650 million to acquire World Triathlon Corp. — the Ironman organizing body — from private equity firm Providence Equity Partners in 2015. Ironman then became part of Wanda Sports, which was listed in the U.S. last year.

A member of the Providence Equity team who led the firm’s original investment in the brand in 2008, Jesse Du Bey, will participate in the deal through his growth-equity firm, Orkila Capital.

Wanda Sports was advised by Credit Suisse Group AG and Reed Smith was its legal adviser, while Advance was advised by Bank of America Corp. and the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

Bloomberg

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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