Sports Business : Wanda Sports Group completes IRONMAN sale, new chairman appointed

Lin Zhang, chairman and board member at Wanda Sports Group, the owner of the Infront agency, among other interests in sport, has relinquished his roles and will be succeeded as chairman by Maojun Zeng, who has been with the Wanda conglomerate for 14 years. Wanda Sports announced today (Monday) that Zhang was stepping down from his positions to “assume a new role within the broader Wanda Group”.

The news coincided with Wanda Sports’ announcement of the completion of the sale of its Ironman business to US based media and tech group Advance Publications for $730Mn. 

Sports Business : Wanda Sports completes IRONMAN Sales

Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (the “Company” or “Wanda Sports Group” today announced that the Company has completed the previously announced sale of The IRONMAN Group to Advance, a private, family-owned business that invests in a broad range of media and technology companies, reflecting an enterprise value of US$730 million It also announced changes in its Board of Directors. 

As a result of the sale, net proceeds are expected to be in the range of US$380 million. The Company used a portion of the net proceeds to repay the principal amount of US$240 million and related interest and fees outstanding under its existing 364-day facility, and intends to imminently use a portion of the net proceeds to repay US$50 million outstanding under a promissory note issued to Wanda Sports & Media (Hong Kong) Holding Co. Limited. As previously reported, the Company intends to use the balance of the net proceeds, subject to business conditions, to return capital to its shareholders (either through a special dividend or a share repurchase program), in either case, subject to shareholder approval, and/or for general corporate purposes.

Mr. Hengming Yang, President and CEO of Wanda Sports Group said: “The successful completion of this transaction within the anticipated time frame was a priority for us. We believe that through this completion, we achieved one of the critical steps towards increasing our financial stability and reducing debt leverage. I am pleased that The IRONMAN Group will continue to work with us to further expand our mass participation business, in China, for the benefit of all of our stakeholders. We remain committed to growing our Mass Participation segment globally and driving further growth in the Chinese market.”

Following completion of the transaction, the Company will continue to operate its three business segments. Its Mass Participation segment will include the mass participation sports events owned, operated or licensed by Infront and Wanda Sports China.  The Company 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 event license agreement. 

Sports Business : IRONMAN President Messick resigns

In connection with the sale, Andrew Messick, President and Chief Executive Officer of The IRONMAN Group, resigned, effective as of today, from his position as Director of Wanda Sports Group. The entire Wanda Sports Group team and the Company’s Board of Directors thank Andrew for his valuable contribution to the Company and wish him continued success as CEO of The IRONMAN Group.

Effective as of today, Mr. Maojun (John) Zeng has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company. Mr. Zeng succeeds Mr. Lin Zhang, who steps down from his positions as Chairman and Board member and will assume a new role within the broader Wanda Group. Mr. Zeng brings with him a wealth of experience based on holding a range of executive and other positions within the Wanda Group. Effective today, Mr. Zeng also joins, in place of Mr. Zhang, each of the Board’s three board committees/