China's Wanda buys Swiss sports marketer Infront for $1.2B

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HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese real estate giant Wanda Group said Tuesday it's buying Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media for 1.05 billion euros ($1.2 billion).

Wanda said the acquisition of Infront, which is the latest addition to its stable of entertainment and leisure businesses, will help support China's efforts in bidding for major sports events.

"This acquisition of Infront will significantly increase the future impact of the Wanda Group in the culture and entertainment industry," said founder and chairman Wang Jianlin, a billionaire who is one of China's richest people.

The deal "will also drive the development of Chinese sports industry and its interest around the globe," he said.

Infront's businesses include producing the World Cup television broadcasts for FIFA through its subsidiary HBS. Infront's president and CEO is Philippe Blatter, whose uncle Sepp Blatter is the soccer federation's president.

Leading clients include the governing bodies of skiing and ice hockey, Italy's top-tier Serie A league and the Chinese basketball league. Infront says its senior managers will stay in place after the sale is completed.

Less than a month ago, the Chinese company bought a 20 percent stake in Spanish football champion Atletico Madrid for 45 million euros.

The company operates dozens of hotels, shopping malls and cinemas in China.

It also owns the U.S. movie theatre chain AMC, British yacht maker Sunseeker and is developing an $8 billion film studio complex in the northeastern city of Qingdao that's billed as China's version of Hollywood.

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