WANDA Sports Group Company on March 26 announced that it has entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement with Advance, a private family-owned business, to sell The IRONMAN Group in an all-cash transaction at an enterprise value of US$730 million, subject to customary purchase price adjustments.
The IRONMAN Group is comprised of a global portfolio of mass participation sports events, across triathlon, running, trail running, cycling and mountain biking. As part of the agreement, Wanda Sports Group will continue to operate IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon series, Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series and Epic Series off-road mountain bike series races of The IRONMAN Group in China under an exclusive license agreement.
Wanda Sports Group president and CEO Hengming Yang says the transaction represents a great outcome for both parties. “Looking ahead, we will continue to leverage the strengths of our Infront and Wanda Sports China businesses to expand our global sports, media and marketing platform,” he points out.
“Our focus remains on ensuring our long-term partners get the most out of every event by increasing appeal, reach and fan engagement, organizing, operating and licensing popular mass participation events, and strengthening our foothold in China to serve the large and fast-growing sports market. We will also benefit from a stronger balance sheet as we execute our strategy and create shareholder value.”
Based in New York, Advance owns, operates and invests in companies spanning media, entertainment, technology, communications and education.
Subsequent to the sale, Wanda Sports Group will continue to operate three business segments – mass participation, spectator sports and digital, production, sports solutions (DPSS). For its international mass participation business, the company, through Infront, will continue to organize, operate and license a broad portfolio of mass participation sports events for amateur athletes, with the focus on running, hiking, road cycling, fitness competitions and obstacle course racing.
In China, Wanda Sports Group has a combination of an existing portfolio of city marathons, such as the Chengdu marathon and Shenyang international marathon, and races and events that the company has rights to under the exclusive license agreement with The IRONMAN Group.
The sale is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020. The company intends to use the net proceeds from the sale to repay the principal amount of US$230 million and related interest and fees outstanding under the Credit Suisse facility and the US$50 million outstanding under a promissory note issued to Wanda Sports & Media (Hong Kong) Holding Company. As to the balance of the proceeds, the company intends to use all or a substantial portion of them to fund dividends or share buy-backs, subject to shareholder approval.
Credit Suisse acted as the exclusive financial adviser and Reed Smith LLP acted as the legal adviser to Wanda Sports Group in this transaction. Advance was advised by BofA Securities and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.