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December 11/15 11:30 am - Tour de France to be Sold to China? Give Your Head a Shake


Posted by Editor on 12/11/15
 

The cycling media universe is currently blowing up with stories that a Chinese billionaire named Wang Jianlin is planning on cornering the market on pro cycling by buying the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta de Espana - plus all their associated properties, such as Paris-Roubaix, Milan San Remo, etc.

With some urgency, pundits are discussing how this will impact "the future of cycling". They are reporting how Wang is the richest man in China, with an estimated fortune of $30 billion. He has invested in a Spanish football team and company that holds some marketing rights to the FIFA World Cup, and purchased the World Triathlon Corporation (Ironman). Subsequently, he launched the Wanda Sports group (which, ominously, has disgraced FIFA head Sepp Blatter's son as its President...).

So, I did some investigating. In turns out that every single report, whether it is in cycling-specific media or more general media, is based on a single source: a sentence in an article written in an Italian financial publication called Milano Finanza.

The actual story is about the Italian media giant RCS (owner of the Giro, among many other sports properties), which has been struggling of late; as have many media conglomerates. RCS has, as might be expected, a falling share value, which troubles the shareholders, and is working on a strategy to reverse its problems. This strategy could include selling off some of its properties or taking on partners.

One sentence in the article mentions Wanda Sports as a potential partner or purchaser. That same sentence says that Wanda has had discussions with ASO (Amaury Sport Organization), the owner of the Tour, among other sports properties, as it tries to expand into sport organization. Nowhere does it say that Wanda is in negotiations to purchase anything.

ASO has a history of partnering with many organizations - recently this has included the Tour of California. ASO has a history of acquisitions, not in selling off properties.

So, to recap: An Italian company that happens to own a major bike race is facing some financial difficulties. A financial newspaper speculates that an option is to take on a foreign partner, and maybe that could be Wanda Sports.

These are the facts; everything else is the most fantastical of speculation. Or, to put it another way: I call bullshit.

The original Milano Finanza article can be found Here.

 

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