With news breaking last week that World Triathlon Corp may be in advanced discussions for a $850m buyout by China’s Dalian Wanda Group, industry watchers say the move could bring yet more global expansion for the Ironman brand – particularly in Asia.
Reuters has quoted a person ‘familiar with the matter’ as saying that Dalian Wanda Group, best known for its real estate holdings, outbid other potential buyers and is now in negotiations with WTC owner Providence Equity Partners.
Gary Roethenbaugh, founder of industry news source Triathlon Business, told us that if such a deal were to go ahead, it would probably preserve the status quo in terms of the existing M-Dot calendar, with Kona to remain the pinnacle for WTC’s athlete community.
“Beyond this, the Ironman brand has built a strong profile in core territories such the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific,” he adds. “Although, if the deal were to happen, it could open up opportunities for yet more Ironman expansion, particularly in Asia where there is further growth to be had.”
Dalian Wanda has acquired a number of Western media and event companies in recent years, including Switzerland-based Infront Sports & Media last February for $1.14bn. InFront’s CEO is Philippe Blatter, nephew of the former FIFA president, and a multiple Ironman finisher.