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Dalian Wanda closes Infront takeover

By Sportbusiness, editing by Yutang Sports 08 Jul 2015

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda has completed its acquisition of the majority shareholding in the Infront Sports & Media agency on Tuesday. The transaction was completed with all customary conditions being fulfilled.

The deal, first announced in February, was completed with all customary conditions being fulfilled. The shares have been acquired from Bridgepoint, the European private equity firm, with the transaction valued at approximately €1.05bn ($1.17bn).

To reflect the new ownership structure, Wanda representatives will join Infront’s board of directors. Wanda Cultural Industry Group president Lincoln Zhang will take over as chairman. Jack Q Gao, Wanda Group vice-president and chief executive of international investments and business developments, will act as vice-chairman.

Infront had said in February that its existing management team, led by president and chief executive Philippe Blatter, would remain in place. Infront added that both parties had agreed on a long-term strategic plan until 2020.

News of Dalian Wanda’s interest emerged in December when it was reported that the conglomerate, which is owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, was closing in on a deal to take over Infront after Bridgepoint had set a deadline of the end of November for bids.

Infront, which was acquired by Bridgepoint in 2011, works with 160 rights-holders in 25 different sports, including football’s global governing body Fifa and the Italian Serie A top football division. The agency has more than 25 offices in 13 countries worldwide and generated revenues of more than €800m in 2014.

Dalian Wanda operates primarily in the business segments of commercial property, entertainment and tourism, e-commerce and financial services. Jianlin had said in February that the deal would help the conglomerate to “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.” Dalian Wanda was founded in 1988. In 2014, the company's assets totaled $86.8B and its annual income reached $39.4B.

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