July 26, 2019 / 3:17 PM / 5 months ago

China's Wanda Sports raises $190.4 million in downsized IPO

HONG KONG/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wanda Sports Group, a sport events owner whose interests include the distribution of media rights in Asia for the FIFA World Cup, said on Friday it priced a smaller-than-expected U.S. initial public offering (IPO) below its targeted range to raise $190.4 million (£153.07 million).

Lincoln Zhang, Chairman of Wanda Sports Group, the sport-related business unit of Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group, stands with executives, employees and athletes during the opening bell ceremony of the company's IPO trading under the symbol (WSG) at the Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., July 26, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Beijing-based company, a unit of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, sold about 23.8 million American depositary shares (ADS) at $8 each, compared with a previously stated target of selling 28 million ADS between $9 to $11.

The weak pricing values the owner of Infront Sports & Media AG, a Swiss sports marketing company, and World Triathlon Corp, the organizer and promoter of the Ironman race, at around $1 billion.

It indicates tepid U.S. investor demand for Chinese stocks after China’s largest live-streaming platform DouYu International Holdings priced its $775 million Nasdaq IPO at the bottom of a price range last week.

On Wednesday, Wanda Sports had already cut the size of its IPO to up to $308 million from a previous size of up to $500 million.

Wanda Sports, which owns sports properties and generates revenue from events operation, sponsorship and media production, in 2018 reported a profit of 54 million euros ($60 million), a 31% drop from a year earlier. The company recorded a loss of 8.6 million euros in the first three months of 2019.

The IPO follows a string of assets sales by parent Dalian Wanda, which had built a sprawling business empire ranging from real estate to sport to cinemas. In 2015, the conglomerate acquired Infront Sports & Media and World Triathlon for $1.2 billion and $650 million, respectively.

However, the company, owned by Wang Jianlin, one of China’s richest men, has been rattled in the past years by a government-led crackdown on overseas deals and high leverage.

Wanda Sports plans to use the IPO proceeds to repay debt, fund strategic investments and for general corporate purposes.

Wanda Sports is due to start trading later on Friday under the symbol “WSG” on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup are the leading banks of the IPO.

(This story corrects reference in first paragraph to Wanda’s role with FIFA World Cup)

Reporting by Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Joshua Franklin in New York; additional reporting by Bharath Manjesh; editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Jonathan Oatis

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