Dalian Wanda to buy Swiss sports firm for $1.2 billion amid entertainment push

Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:57am EST
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By Matthew Miller

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Dalian Wanda Group Co signed a 1.05 billion euros ($1.2 billion) deal to buy Swiss sports marketing firm Infront Sports & Media AG, and said it plans to acquire more overseas companies this year to deepen its push into sports and entertainment.

The acquisition will see Wanda Group, China's largest property developer which also controls the country's largest cinema chain, take a 68.2 percent stake in Infront, which focuses on distributing media rights for broadcasting sports events including the soccer World Cup and several Olympic winter sports.

Three unidentified Chinese and global investors will take the remaining minority stake, Wanda executives told Reuters. Infront generated about 800 million euros in revenue last year.

"This purchase allows Wanda to become a global leader in the sports industry in a single bound," Dalian Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin told reporters after a deal signing ceremony in Beijing.

"In addition to Infront, Wanda will buy at least two cultural companies this year," he added, without giving details.

Reuters had reported that Wanda would buy Infront earlier this month.

The purchase from London-based private equity group Bridgepoint comes a few weeks after Wanda announced a 45 million euro investment in Spanish soccer champions Atletico Madrid, its first overseas sports deal.

The group, which controls China's biggest commercial real estate developer, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co., is aggressively expanding overseas to move away from China's property market, which has been hit by a slowing economy and a series of cooling measures.   Continued...

A man walks in front of an entrance to a Wanda Department Store in Wuhan, Hubei province, in this December 23, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Files