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Wanda Sports unveiled following deals with Infront, WTC

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda has today (Wednesday) revealed that the Infront Sports & Media agency and World Triathlon Corporation will be integrated in a newly formed entity named Wanda Sports Holding, and are to be rebranded accordingly.

Infront’s president and chief executive, Philippe Blatter, will step up to lead the Wanda Sports business as president and chief executive with the top management of both Infront and WTC, parent company of the Ironman triathlon series, remaining in place.

Wanda Sports will seek to build on the strategies of Infront and WTC. It will be based on the three core business pillars of spectator sports (media and marketing business), participation sports (active lifestyle business) and services (production, digital and service business).

Wanda Sports’ operational headquarters will be in Zug, Switzerland. The holding company is based in China. The active lifestyle business will be led by WTC chief executive Andrew Messick from the US city of Tampa, Florida.

Today’s announcement follows the formal closing last week of WTC’s acquisition by Wanda Group. The $650m (€608m) deal for WTC granted Dalian Wanda a 100-per-cent stake in the corporation.

The Ironman series comprises 180 long-distance triathlons in more than 20 countries around the world. WTC accounts for 91 per cent of the global market share of long-distance triathlon events. Ironman competitor John Gills purchased the franchise in 1989 before selling to US private equity investment firm Providence Equity in 2008 for an undisclosed amount.

Dalian Wanda completed its acquisition of the majority shareholding in Infront Sports & Media in July. The shares were acquired from Bridgepoint, the European private equity firm, with the transaction valued at approximately €1.05bn ($1.17bn).

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, said: “Wanda has a very high expectation for the development and prospects of the sports industry. The significance of establishing Wanda Sports is not only to integrate Wanda's interests in sports, but also to truly expand and strengthen Wanda's businesses in the industry, while at the same time grasping the rapidly growing opportunities in the Chinese sports market. We want to truly impact the development of sport around the world.”

Blatter added: “Under the new structure we expect the growth and acceleration of the company’s impressive portfolio of both spectator and participation sports based on the shared networks and resources of the integrated companies. All valued partners and clients as well as millions of sports enthusiasts worldwide will benefit. The new structure will provide continuity and stability, a much enhanced service offering and strengthened resources in event development and delivery.”

In the following months, the management of Wanda Sports will further review the entity’s structure in a bid to maximise strategic alignment. Further details will be announced in the first quarter of 2016.