Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

29 Nov, 2015

Chinese Billionaire Aims to Build World’s Most Profitable Sports Company

Beijing, (Xinhua) November 28, 2015 – Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin never conceals his ambition to build a world leading sports company. Wang’s Wanda Group has set up Wanda Sports company, an integration of sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media and World Triathlon Corporation (WTC).

Wanda Group, a real estate giant in China, announced on Wednesday they appointed Philippe Blatter, FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s nephew, president and CEO of Wanda Sports.

“The significance of establishing Wanda Sports is not only to integrate Wanda’s interests in sports, but also to truly expand and strengthen Wanda’s businesses in the industry,” said Wang after the announcement.

Setting up the company was Wang’s latest move to seize a big share of China’s sports industry cake, which seems all the more lucrative as Beijing won the right to host 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The Chinese government last year mapped out a plan which aims to grow its sports sector into a 5-trillion-yuan (about 813 billion U.S. dollars) industry by 2025.

The expectations have drawn hugh investment into the sector.

In less than a year, Wanda bought stake in Spanish La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, merged Infront and then bought WTC in August, spending about 11.6 billion yuan (about 1.85 billion U.S. dollars) in this area.

E-commerce titan Alibaba also showed great interest as they first paid 1.2 billion yuan (about 192 million U.S. dollars) for 50 percent stake in Guangzhou Evergrande, China’s most successful soccer club and two-time Asian Champions League winner.

The Nasdaq-listed company, which have business cooperations with German champions Bayern Munich, Spanish giants Real Madrid and NBA star Kobe Bryant, then launched its own sports company in September to focus on professional sports.

Two other internet companies LeTV and Tencent jumped on the bandwagon by establishing respective sports companies as well.

Wang explained investors’ enthusiasm at a summit of Chinese listed companies two weeks ago.

“China’s sports industry is still in its cradle but the government has launched a plan to promote it and set a goal of 5 trillion yuan in scale. If the goal is realized, sports really is a very promising industry,” he said.

Wang continued to speak out his ambitions.

“We plan to keep merging and add new content into our sports branch. Wanda Sports aim to become the world’s first sports company with an annual income of more than 10 billion U.S. dollars,” he said.

Wang, however, could still underestimate the potential as Chinese sports minister Liu Peng said last month the sports industry may reach 7 trillion yuan by 2025.