U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 7 mins

Wanda Sports to Sell Ironman to Advance for $730 Million

Liana Baker and Nabila Ahmed

(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.

(Updates Wanda Sports’s share price to close in fifth paragraph.)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.