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China's Wanda files for US IPO of sports unit to raise up to US$500m: sources

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Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has filed confidentially for a US initial public offering (IPO) of its sports unit that could fetch up to US$500 million, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

[HONG KONG] Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has filed confidentially for a US initial public offering (IPO) of its sports unit that could fetch up to US$500 million, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The company made the filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for the listing, which could happen in the first half of this year, the sources said.

The IPO could raise between US$300 million and US$500 million, the people said, though one cautioned that US$500 million might be high.

A Wanda spokesman did not provide any immediate comment.

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Wanda's sprawling business empire ranges from real estate to sport to cinemas, but it has been rattled in the past years by a government-led crackdown on overseas deals and high leverage.

The company owned by Wang Jianlin, one of China's richest men, has since started offloading domestic and overseas holdings, including stakes in cinema operator AMC Entertainment and Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid and a handful of property developments.

Other Chinese conglomerates such as HNA group and Fosun International have also faced government pressure to cut down on what Beijing has termed irrational overseas deals.

An IPO of Wanda's sports assets would include Infront Sports & Media AG, a Swiss sports marketing company and World Triathlon Corp, the organiser and promoter of the Ironman race, three sources previously told Reuters.

The two were acquired in 2015 for US$1.2 billion and US$650 million respectively. Wanda, while preparing the IPO, had also received offers for the businesses from a number of private equity firms, Reuters reported.

Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley are working on the deal, the sources said. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chinese companies have dominated the ranks of those looking to go public worldwide, raising US$58.2 billion in IPOs last year, accounting for 29 per cent of global issuers, according to Refinitiv data.

They have also been very active in US listings, raising US$9.1 billion last year, the highest level since 2014, Refinitiv data showed.

REUTERS