The richest man in China has bought the operator of the Ironman triathlon

Ironman, triathlon, cyclists, bicycle race
The Ironman features a 112-mile long bike ride. AP Images

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is buying the World Triathlon Corporation — the parent company of the iconic Ironman triathlon — for $US650 million from private equity firm Providence Equity.

The deal was announced on Thursday in
a release.

The Ironman, which began in February 1978, is one of the most gruelling endurance races.
The 140.6 mile race involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike race, and a 26.2 mile run that must be completed in under 17 hours.

A number of Wall Street-types have taken on this race. Crossing that finish line gives someone serious bragging rights too. There’s also the Half Ironman (70.3 miles), which fund managers Daniel Loeb of Third Point and Andreas Halvorsen of Viking Global have both completed.

Providence Equity first bought the Tampa-based company in 2008 for an undisclosed sum. Since then the company has seen tremendous growth. The Wall Street Journal reported that Providence has been able to quadruple its money on the investment.

The Wanda Group release said that WTC’s gross revenue has risen at a compounded average growth rate of 40% for four consecutive years, while net profit has grown at 40% a year.

The Wanda Group, which is run by the richest man in China, Wang Jianlin, invests in commercial real estate, luxury hotels, department stores, and culture and tourism businesses, according to its website. The company also owns US-based movie theatre operator AMC Entertainment.

The WTC acquisition if part of the company’s move to be a leader in the sports industry.

“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. After the acquisition of WTC, Wanda will become the largest sports company in the world in terms of scale,” the company said.

“Secondly, the acquisition enables Wanda to secure core resources and assets in the global sports industry. Triathlons are a jewel in the crown of world endurance sports, and as WTC exclusively owns the major global triathlon brands, the acquisition provides Wanda with direct control over its core resources.”

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