Advance, the owners of Conde Naste, entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement with Wanda Sports Group Company Limited to acquire The Ironman Group in an all-cash transaction.
The Ironman Group and its portfolio of assets, which include its flagship Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlons, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and the Epic Series of mountain biking races, among other events, makes up the largest mass participation sports platform in the world. From a single race on O’ahu, Hawai`i in 1978, The Ironman Group has owned, organized, promoted, and licensed endurance events for over 40 years which now consists of more than 235 events in over 50 countries across triathlon, running, trail running, cycling and mountain biking. Each year over one million international athletes participate in an Ironman Group race.
Advance’s portfolio includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, American City Business Journals, Leaders Group, Turnitin, 1010data, and Pop.
Advance said it is committed to the future of The Ironman Group and believes in the long-term strength of its well-recognized brands and the dedication of its athletes, communities, employees, and fans. Advance is a private, family-owned business that invests in a broad range of media and technology companies.
Orkila Capital will co-invest in The Ironman Group and Jesse Du Bey, managing partner of Orkila, will rejoin its Board of Directors alongside Advance and Andrew Messick, president and CEO of The Ironman Group. Orkila is a growth equity firm focused on investments in the media, entertainment and consumer sectors. Du Bey, previously a managing director at Providence Equity Partners, led that firm’s 2008 investment in The Ironman Group.
“Today is an important milestone for The Ironman Group. We are pleased with this partnership, which is a testament to Advance’s belief in the company,” said Andrew Messick, CEO of The Ironman Group. “We remain confident in our future; our focus and objectives are unchanged, and we are ready to face the opportunities and challenges ahead. Together with Advance and Orkila, we will navigate through the turbulent and uncertain period in front of us and continue to deliver the exceptional experiences for which we’re known. I’m also thrilled to welcome Jesse Du Bey back to the Board of Directors of The Ironman Group.” Messick continued, “We thank Wanda Sports Group for its support over the past four years and are proud of what we have accomplished together. We look forward to continuing our work in China with Wanda Sports Group in the coming years.”
“We are pleased to welcome The Ironman Group to the Advance family of companies,” said Janine Shelffo, chief strategy and development officer at Advance. “The core Ironman Group values of endurance and perseverance resonate strongly at Advance, a one-hundred-year-old business that has differentiated itself through long-term focus and commitment. We are delighted to partner with Andrew and his executive team as they plan to resume exceptional race experiences for their passionate athletes and to support the long-term growth of the business. We’re also pleased to join forces with Orkila and are grateful for the invaluable experience with The Ironman Group that they bring to our partnership.”
“I look forward to this new chapter with The Ironman Group. Since I last worked with Andrew and his team, the company has experienced significant growth in its global triathlon event footprint and has successfully expanded into new areas such as running, trail running and mountain biking,” said Jesse Du Bey, managing partner of Orkila. “I am thrilled that Orkila is partnering with Advance, Andrew and The Ironman Group to help build this great family of brands into the future.”
As part of the transaction, Wanda Sports Group will continue to operate the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlon series, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and Epic Series of off-road mountain bike races in China under an exclusive license agreement.
The transaction has no financing condition and is subject to customary regulatory approvals, with closing anticipated in the second quarter of 2020.
Advance was advised by BofA Securities and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. The Ironman Group and Wanda Sports Group were advised by Credit Suisse and Reed Smith LLP.
Photo courtesy Ironman