Dalian Wanda confirms deal for Swiss sports marketing firm

<p>Dalian Wanda has announced its intentions to buy Infront Sports & Media.</p>

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda has announced its intentions to purchase Swiss sports marketing firm Infront Sports & Media.

The deal, worth around $1.19 billion (£780 million), will involve Dalian Wanda teaming up with a group of investors to acquire 68.2 per cent of Infront. The Swiss firm is currently owned by private equity company Bridgepoint but Wanda has not disclosed information about any of the shareholders involved.

Wanda is chaired by Chinese entrepreneur Wang Jianlin. Worth around $13.2 billion, according to Forbes magazine, Mr Jianlin is currently the second-richest man in the Asian country behind Alibaba boss Jack Ma. He has previously shown interest in investing in sports firms after previously owning Dalian Wanda FC.

Mr Jianlin said about the Infront deal: "This acquisition of Infront will significantly increase the future impact of the Wanda Group in the culture and entertainment industry and will also drive the development of Chinese sports industry and its interest around the globe.

"Infront, through its long-standing partnerships with some of the most important sports rights-holders, is top-connected in the global sports industry."

Sporting pursuits

This is just the latest sporting deal Mr Jianlin has made in recent months. In January, he purchased a 20 per cent stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid. The Chinese billionaire paid €45 million (£34 million) for the share in the La Liga champions as he looks to diversify his business empire.

Infront is just the latest sports company to be purchased by Mr Jianlian's firm. The Swiss company holds broadcasting rights to some of the biggest events in sports. In the past it has shown tournaments such as the football World Cup, the German football league and the Italian football league.

It has not been without its controversies however, as FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been criticised for awarding Infront television rights for World Cups in the past, Mr Blatter's newphew Philippe Blatter is chief executive of Infront.

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