China’s Dalian Wanda Group is buying Swiss sports marketing firm Infront Sports & Media for $1.19 billion and said it plans to acquire more overseas companies this year to deepen its push into sports and entertainment.
The acquisition will see Wanda Group, China’s largest property developer, which also controls the country’s largest cinema chain, take a 68.2 percent stake in Infront, which focuses on distributing media rights for broadcasting sports events such as soccer’s World Cup and several Olympic winter sports.
Wanda owns AMC Entertainment, the Leawood-based movie theater chain.
“This purchase allows Wanda to become a global leader in the sports industry in a single bound,” said Dalian Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin after a deal-signing ceremony in Beijing.
“In addition to Infront, Wanda will buy at least two cultural companies this year,” he added without giving details.
Wanda plans to take Infront public, though it doesn’t have a timeline on when it will do so, Jianlin said.
The purchase from London-based private equity group Bridgepoint comes a few weeks after Wanda announced a major investment in Spanish soccer champions Atletico Madrid, its first overseas sports deal.
Revenue at Wanda's culture division, which includes U.S. motion picture theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings and Wanda Cinema Line, China's biggest movie theater company, more than doubled last year to $5.5 billion.