Dalian Wanda Group, the real estate and entertainment flagship of Asia's richest man Wang Jianlin, said today it will buy 100% of World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) for $650 million in its latest push into the global sports industry.
Wanda's purchase of Florida-headquartered WTC, the world's largest operator of Ironman events, follows recent investments in Infront Sports & Media and Atletico Madrid.
Ironman is a triathlon completed within a strict time limit, and split into different levels according to age and ability. In the U.S. alone, over 480,000 people participate in triathlon events, with over 4,400 separate races held each year, Wanda said.
WTC holds a 91% global market share in long-distance triathlon events. "China has millions of cyclists and tens of millions of runners, so the potential for triathlon participation is huge," Wanda's statement said.
Wanda believes that acquisition will expand the industry scale of Wanda sports. At present, major global sports industries are largely situated in Europe and America, and acquisitions are the only way for most companies to scale up efficiently, the statement said.
After the WTC acquisition, Wanda said it will become the largest sports company in the world in terms of scale. It didn't quantify that claim. Wanda's sports businesses today include event organizing, athlete representation, event marketing and rebroadcasting.
Because triathlons are longer and more complicated than marathons, the economic benefits of hosting them are greater to host cities. "Statistics show that for a small triathlon with 1,000 participants, there are on average three friends or family members that come to support each participant. People are likely to stay for around four days and three nights, which translates into 5,000 hotel rooms being used in the host city," said Wanda, which also operates a hotel chain. "A triathlon brand owned by Wanda will become a much sought after event for Chinese cities."