Chinese tycoon bids more than $1 billion for sports marketing giant Infront: media reports

The Dalian Wanda conglomerate of Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin (above) has bid around US$1 billion (S$1.34 billion) for influential sports marketing giant Infront Sports & Media, according to a report on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP
The Dalian Wanda conglomerate of Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin (above) has bid around US$1 billion (S$1.34 billion) for influential sports marketing giant Infront Sports & Media, according to a report on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (AFP) - The Dalian Wanda conglomerate of Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin has bid around US$1 billion (S$1.34 billion) for influential sports marketing giant Infront Sports & Media, according to a report on Wednesday.

The tycoon, who recently hit the headlines when he bought a 20 per cent stake in Spanish football champions Atletico Madrid, has confirmed his interest in sports business by bidding some 1 billion Swiss francs (S$1.46 billion) for Infront, public Swiss broadcaster RTS reported, quoting "sources close to the deal".

Infront, a sports marketing company based in Zug, Switzerland, and directed by Philippe Blatter - the nephew of Fifa chief Sepp Blatter - handles the media and marketing rights for many international sports events.

Contacted by AFP on Monday, the Swiss company refused to comment on "market rumours".

If the deal is real and goes through, Dalian Wanda would enter the sport business big league.

Infront is expected to rake in several hundred million dollars on the next two football World Cups - in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022 - alone.

The company, which counts some 600 employees across 12 countries, is also heavily present in all aspects of sports marketing, with sponsoring activities like advertising around sports halls and stadiums.

It also handles media finances for many football clubs, including Italian giants AC Milan and Inter Milan, and counts the Berlin Marathon, China's professional basketball league and the European Handball Federation among its clients.