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Wanda Sports China appoints new CEO, group Q2 revenues total €284m

Wanda Sports China, a subsidiary of Chinese sports marketing company Wanda Sports Group, has appointed Yimin Gao as president and chief executive officer, replacing Dongwei Yang.

Yang resigned from his role, and from his position on the company’s board of directors, for personal reasons, according to Wanda Sports Group. Gao is expected to soon be appointed to the board.

Gao’s appointment coincides with the release of Wanda Sports Group’s second-quarter financial results, which showed a 30-per-cent fall in revenue to €283.8m ($322.8m).

Wanda Sports China manages Wanda Sports Group’s events in China, including the China Cup national team tournament, the Tour of Guangxi cycle race, Ironman events, the Chengdu International Marathon and Badminton World Federation events.

Gao was previously the chief executive of Wanda Kidsplace, one of the largest operators of children’s early-education centres and playgrounds in China, and has held various positions of responsibility in the culture and real estate subsidiaries of Wanda Group.

Hengming Yang, president and chief executive of Wanda Sports Group, said: “Yimin is a talented executive, who brings a deep understanding of China’s evolving demographics and the important role that the rising middle class has on the country’s future growth.

“We are confident that Yimin and our talented China team will accelerate our strategic growth in China. We also thank Dongwei for his leadership over the past three years, including his work to build up our China platform.”

Wanda Sports Group, a unit of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, made its debut on the Nasdaq stock market in the US on July 26. The listing had a rocky start, including a reduction to $308m of a planned total offering of $500m. The share price dropped in the days after the listing but later recovered.

Wanda Sports Group has more than 60 offices and 1,600 employees around the world. Its holdings include the Infront agency and the World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironman brand.

Second-quarter revenue drop

Wanda Sports’ 30-per-cent second-quarter drop in revenue was chiefly due to a marked fall in revenue from its Digital, Production and Sports Solutions (DPSS) segment given the non-reoccurrence of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Infront subsidiary HBS is the contracted host broadcast for the tournament.

Wanda Sports announced that, excluding reimbursement revenue, total revenue was €256.1m, up 4 per cent year-on-year, mainly due to increased revenue from the group’s Mass Participation unit.

Gross profit totalled €104.4m, a decrease of €3.8m on the figure reported 12 months ago and in part due to the 2018 World Cup effect. The cost of sales was €179.4m, a decrease of 39 per cent year-on-year, and mainly given the reduction in broadcast production costs.

The second-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was €58.8, reflecting a €6.6m year-on-year fall.

DPSS segment revenue was €54.8m, down 70-per-cent year-on-year given the significant revenues generated by the 2018 World Cup host broadcast contract.

Wanda Sports’ second-quarter revenue in its mass participation segment totalled €90.9m, up 21 per cent.

On that segment growth, Wanda Sports said: “The growth was primarily driven by increases in the number of gross-paid athletes and average revenue per gross-paid athlete. The number of gross-paid athletes increased from 449,000 in the second quarter of 2018 to 466,000 in the second quarter of 2019 attributable to the contribution from recently acquired events. Average revenue per gross-paid athlete increased to €118 from €96 in the second quarter of 2018.”

Second-quarter revenue from Wanda Sports’ spectator sports segment was €138.1m, reflecting a 6-per-cent year-on-year drop “primarily due to the decline in revenue” from the group’s football portfolio (including the 2018 World Cup “event cyclicality”). The drop was partially offset by stronger contributions from summer and winter sports this year.

Hengming Yang, Wanda Sports’ chief executive, said: “We are pleased with our second quarter performance, which reflects the strong business momentum across our three key segments. Compared with the second quarter of 2018, we delivered steady revenue growth and achieved solid profits, excluding the impact of event cyclicality due to the Fifa World Cup.”