China's Dalian Wanda to buy Swiss sports firm

Wang Jianlin, chief executive of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Image copyright AFP
Image caption The purchase of Infront Sports & Media is the latest in a string of overseas acquisitions for Dalian Wanda

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda will buy Swiss sports marketing firm Infront Sports & Media with a group of investors for $1.19bn (£780m).

Wanda will buy 68.2% of the firm from private equity company Bridgepoint, but it did not name the other shareholders.

Infront holds broadcasting rights to some of the world's biggest sporting events like the football World Cup.

The firm's chief executive is Philippe Blatter, nephew of Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

The Fifa president has faced criticism in the past for awarding Infront television rights for World Cups.

Wanda is one of China's biggest property developers and has made a series of high-profile acquisitions.

Last month, it made headlines for plans to invest $1bn in a property near Australia's Sydney Harbour, along with buying a 20% stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid for $52m.

The firm also owns US cinema chain AMC and luxury British yachtmaker Sunseeker.

The company is led by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, who has pushed the firm's plans to expand overseas and diversify its business.

Who is Wang Jianlin?

  • The 60-year-old is ranked China's second-richest man behind Alibaba boss Jack Ma
  • He is worth $13.2bn according to Forbes magazine
  • Mr Wang is planning to open up amusement parks in China to rival the likes of Walt Disney and Universal Studios
  • He was reportedly in talks over a stake in the Hollywood studio behind the Hunger Games franchise, Lions Gate Entertainment

"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," said chairman Wang Jianlin in a statement on Tuesday.

The firm already has a presence in China and handles media finances for the country's professional basketball league.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

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