Wanda Sports Group Co., the China-based sports marketing and event promoter, is considering selling the Ironman triathlon business it bought in 2015, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company, part of Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s conglomerate, is working with an adviser and has held discussions with some private-equity buyers that expressed interest in the business, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Wanda Sports is seeking to fetch about $1 billion for the triathlon business, one of the people said.
Shares of Wanda Sports rose a record 46% in New York on Tuesday.
A deal could come after Wanda Sports declined to enter talks last year with The Professional Triathletes Organisation, which was interested in acquiring the Ironman business. The organization said at the time that excessive leverage has hampered Wanda Sports’s ability to invest in Ironman operations. On Feb. 4, the PTO renewed its proposal for discussions, saying it’s prepared to consider an all-cash transaction.
Wanda Sports shares have dropped about 46% in New York trading since their July 2019 debut, paring the company’s market value to about $595 million. With total debt at about $967 million, the company has an enterprise value of about $1.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Deliberations are ongoing and Wanda Sports could decide against proceeding with a sale, the people said. A representative for Wanda Sports declined to comment.
The Ironman Triathlon, organized by Wanda’s World Triathlon Corp., consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 kilometers) swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run in one day.
The series includes more than 170 races annually across six continents from South Africa and Australia to the U.S. and China, according to its website. Dalian Wanda Group Co., the China-based real estate-to-entertainment group led by Wang, bought the business five years ago for $650 million. Ironman then became part of Wanda Sports, which was listed in the U.S. last year.