It’s official – Ironman has been acquired by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group for $650m, joining football club Atlético Madrid on the latter’s roster of investments in Western sports enterprises.

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The news broke early this morning, and Wanda Group assumes Ironman’s existing – unspecified – debts from current owner Providence Equity Partners.

The finish chute at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii (Paul Phillips)

Ironman CEO Andrew Messick said: “Wanda Group’s acquisition of Ironman marks another exciting chapter and opportunity for the future growth of Ironman after seven very successful years of ownership by Providence Equity Partners.

“Wanda Group is a global-minded organisation that shares our desire for excellence and continued growth, particularly in Asia. We are delighted to be part of the Wanda Group family of companies and are excited about the future of Ironman as we continue to provide life changing race experiences for athletes of all levels from their first step to the finish line.”

There’s certainly plenty of headroom for growth in the Far East – just 100 Chinese athletes have completed an Ironman race in the history of triathlon, a company spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.

Industry watcher Gary Roethenbaugh, founder of news source Triathlon Business, believes the acquisition represents a “major shift in gear” for the M-Dot brand.

“While it is understood that it will be business as usual for the Ironman team in Tampa, Florida – with Ironman now part of the rapidly expanding Wanda Group, we can expect to see a flurry of activity for Ironman and IM 70.3 in the Asia region in particular.”

During the announcement, Ironman also revealed it expects to generate revenues of $183m in 2015, and has increased revenue at a compound annual growth rate of 21% over the past four years.

More information and comment to follow… 

(Main image: Getty)

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