Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese conglomerate, is reportedly looking to sell off the Infront Sports international marketing agency.

The group is attempting to divest itself of Infront as it comes under increasing financial pressure, according to the Reuters news site. Sportcal has been given a statement saying that "Infront has launched a strategic review process with the aim to find a fully committed strategic investor for the leading global sports platform to fuel its further successful development."

Reuters has cited four sources as saying that Wanda has selected the German Deutsche Bank financial institution to provide assistance during the expected sales process and that it may take months to complete.

Reuters also cited its sources as suggesting that Infront is already being monitored as a potential acquisition option by private equity firms and that a buyer with significant financial resources will be needed.

Wanda bought a majority stake in Infront for $1.05 billion in 2015, from the Bridgepoint private equity group which had owned the agency since 2011.

Infront – originally founded in October 2002 – is now one of the major players in terms of holding key media rights for top-tier sporting properties, and has deals in place with the likes of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), soccer’s English Premier League and Italian Serie A, and various global governing bodies (including in skiing and athletics).

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By GlobalData

The IOC deal covers media rights to the Olympics in 22 Asian countries between 2026 and 2032.

Last September, the agency launched a dedicated betting division – Infront Bettor – in an attempt to diversify its activities and gain market share in that lucrative sector.

However, during recent years, the primary Wanda business of property development has suffered financially, hit simultaneously by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and by a change in strategy by the Chinese government.

Wanda is currently facing a range of court orders and asset freezes from the Chinese authorities.

Last month, the conglomerate raised $314 million by selling 49% of Beijing Wanda Cultural Industry Group, one of its entertainment units.

Sportcal has been told the following by Infront: "We confirm that, together with our shareholder Wanda Sports Group, Infront has launched a strategic review process with the aim to find a fully committed strategic investor for the leading global sports platform to fuel its further successful development.

"After an intense period of growth and another year of strong performance, Infront occupies a leading position within the large sports business, media, and technology market which is fuelled by strong tailwinds.

"The company represents a comprehensive and diversified owned IP and IP-like portfolio with long-term strategic partnerships. Overall Infront works with over 30 spectator sports and implements over 100 participation sports events attracting more than 500,000 athletes each year.

"Infront is generating total annual revenues of around €1 billion ($1.08 billion) and has a history of profitable growth with highly visible and diversified revenues since the inception of the company. As of today, we have a very strong cash position and our financials have not been severely affected by the pandemic thanks to our highly diversified and resilient business model."