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World Triathlon Corporation, owners of Ironman, yesterday announced that private Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, known as the Wanda Group, has purchased the organization from Providence Equity Partners, a private equity group based out of Providence, R.I. that has owned the company since 2008.
Prior to the public announcement, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick, who has overseen the company since 2011, explained via email that the leadership of the organization will largely remain unchanged and Ironman will continue to pursue its goal of aggressive growth.
“Although this is big news for our organization, rest assured that the Ironman team will stay focused on our races, our people, our athletes and our partners,” Messick wrote in the email. “Ironman has a very bright future: I intend to remain the CEO of Ironman and will be signing a contract extension as will the core of our senior management team. More broadly, our teams and leadership will remain intact, we will continue to grow and provide opportunities for partners and athletes.”
According to its website, the Wanda Group was founded in 1988 and operates in four major areas: commercial property, luxury hotels, culture and tourism, and department stores. In 2014, the company’s total assets totaled approximately $85.6 billion and its annual income reached $38.8 billion. In terms of American-based assets, the group most notably owns AMC Theatres, which it purchased in 2012 for $2.6 billion.
Though the majority of Ironman’s full-distance and 70.3 races take place in North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand, the company has been vocal about targeting Asia and working to meet the growing demand for the sport in that region.