Advance Publications, Inc., an American media company, announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase the IRONMAN Group from the Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (NASDAQ: WSG). Advance intend to acquire IRONMAN in an all-cash transaction of $730 million.
The Wanda Group made a decision in December that the way to unlock value in the IRONMAN Group was to sell these assets independently. The market was not persuaded by the value of the other two components making up WSG which were InFront - a sports marketing group - and Wanda Sports China, the entity producing both IRONMAN and other events inside China.
Wanda Sports China will continue to be IRONMAN's partner in China, producing the IRONMAN and Rock 'n' Roll events there.
Andrew Messick will remain as CEO. The transaction still needs to pass regulatory approvals. The purchase price is an all-in price. It is more than the $650 million Wanda paid for IRONMAN when it bought the company in 2015, but that transaction included the assumption of a $200-and-some million debt, pushing the total value of the transaction into the mid-$800 millions.
“Advance” holds a 31 percent stake in the Discovery Channel and a 13 percent take in Charter Communications. It owns Condé Nast, Wired, Lycos, Angelfire, Tripod and is the majority shareholder in Reddit.
Helping to fund the transaction is Orkila Capital. It's managing partner, Jesse Du Bey, will be on IRONMAN's board of directors. This is the second time Du Bey has been instrumental in the purchase of the IRONMAN Company. He was the lead figure at Providence Equity Partners when that private equity company purchased the brand from longtime IRONMAN owner Dr. James Gills, who purchased the brand from Valerie Silk in 1989. Du Bey Jesse brought IRONMAN to Providence in 2008, managed that investment for 5 years before leaving to found Orkila.
Moving across in the transaction are all IRONMAN events and properties, which include Rock 'n' Roll, Breck Epic, a total of 235 races in 50 countries.