- Infront manages international media rights for likes of Premier League and Olympics
- Private equity firms linked with deal
Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is looking to sell its sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, according to Reuters.
Wanda has reportedly brought in Deutsche Bank to advise on the sale of Infront, though the process is in its early stages and could take months to complete.
Private equity firms are purportedly interested and any buyer would need to have considerable financial resources given the minimum guarantees Infront is required to pay for sports rights.
“We confirm that, together with our shareholder Wanda Sports Group, Infront has launched a strategic review process with the aim to find a fully committed strategic investor,” a spokesperson for Infront told Reuters, adding that the company generates total annual revenues of around €1 billion (US$1.09 billion)
Swiss-based Infront’s business portfolio includes managing international media rights for the likes of the Premier League and Serie A, as well as World Athletics’ Indoor Tour. In June, the company landed the exclusive broadcast rights for 22 countries in Central and Southeast Asia spanning the next four Olympic Games from 2026 to 2032. Last month, Infront and the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) inked an exclusive agreement covering the distribution of international media rights to FIS World Cup events.
Wanda acquired a majority stake in Infront for €1.05 billion (US$1.1 billion) from Bridgepoint in 2015. However, the conglomerate’s main property development business has been under financial pressure and a sale of Infront would help shore up its finances.
China’s property developers have been hit hard in recent years, with declining sales and debt defaults decimating a sector which, according to Reuters, previously contributed around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
In July, Wanda raised US$320 million through the partial sale of its entertainment unit Beijing Wanda Cultural Industry Group to pay off a US$400 million bond that had been due at the time.
Reuters also notes that companies in the sports marketing have been short of cash after a downturn during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Spanish agency Mediapro, which handles overseas rights sales for LaLiga, reached an agreement with its creditor funds last year to refinance its financial debt, which stood at more than €900 million (US$980 million).