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Dalian Wanda considers selling Infront, manager of Olympics media rights – sources.

China’s Dalian ​Wanda Group Seeks to Sell Sports Marketing Unit Infront

By Amy-Jo Crowley, Emma-Victoria Farr and⁣ Milana Vinn

LONDON/FRANKFURT/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Dalian Wanda Group, owned by China’s⁤ once-richest man Wang⁢ Jianlin, is seeking to sell its sports marketing ‍unit Infront as‌ financial pressure mounts on the ⁣property ⁣developer ⁤to shore up its finances, ​four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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China’s largest commercial ⁢property group has tapped Deutsche Bank for ⁤advice on the sale of Infront Sports & Media, the sources said, adding ⁢the process ‍is in the early stages and could take months to complete.

Private equity firms are looking at Infront, three of the⁤ sources said. The successful buyer is ⁣likely ⁤to⁣ be an investor with deep pockets because of the minimum ⁣guarantees‌ the company is required to pay for sports rights, one of⁢ the ⁣sources added.

Headquartered in Switzerland, Infront’s businesses include managing Italy’s Serie A and the UK Premier ‌League’s international media rights, as ⁤well as event operations, media rights distribution⁤ and sponsorship‍ sales.

In June, Infront was⁢ awarded broadcast rights in 22 countries in Central and South East Asia for the Olympic Games ⁤from 2026 ⁣through ⁢2032.

Wanda and Deutsche Bank declined⁢ to‌ comment. Infront did not ‍immediately return requests for comment.

The sources, who requested anonymity as the matter is confidential, cautioned a deal is not certain and‌ is subject to ⁤market conditions.

China’s property developers have been ⁢battered over the last few years as falling⁣ sales and​ a wave of debt‌ defaults have savaged a sector that previously contributed around ​a quarter of ⁤the country’s gross domestic⁤ product.​

In ‍July, the three main credit ratings agencies downgraded Dalian Wanda’s commercial management unit,‌ warning of “non-payment risk” ahead of the‍ repayment of a $400 million bond that had been due at the time. It raised $320 million through the partial sale​ of its⁣ entertainment⁢ unit Beijing Wanda Cultural Industry to ​pay it off.

It also stalled on ⁣a $22 million-dollar‌ bond coupon payment in June, though it ultimately paid within‍ the grace period. Additionally, it is ‍facing‌ litigation⁤ and asset freeze orders from courts in China due to payment⁣ disputes.

Wanda bought a majority stake in Infront for 1.05 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in 2015, in what was then an effort to support China in bidding for major sports events. It does not ‌disclose financials for Infront.

Companies in the sports⁤ marketing sector​ have been strapped ⁤for cash after‍ a downturn during the COVID pandemic.

Spain’s Mediapro, which manages‌ international media rights for LaLiga, restructured 900 million euros ‍in debt a year ago selling shares to investors including the group’s majority shareholder Southwind.⁣

($1 = 0.9204 euros)

(Reporting⁢ by ⁢Amy-Jo Crowley, Emma-Victoria Farr and Milana Vinn, ⁤additional reporting by Andres Gonzalez, Kane Wu and Clare Jim, editing‍ by Elisa⁣ Martinuzzi and ⁢Sharon Singleton)

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