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April 27, 2017

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Wanda to stage China’s first global marathon

WANDA Group said yesterday that it would stage several top-level marathons in Asia, including China’s first international event, as part of its latest investment in sport.

A signing ceremony between the Chinese group and Abbott World Marathon Majors took place in Beijing.

Wanda, headed by Wang Jianlin, one of China’s richest men, is a commercial property developer that has diversified recently into entertainment and sports, partly as a buffer against real estate volatility.

“The fact that marathons are so popular in China is proof that Chinese people are getting richer,” Wang told the ceremony. “Once you have enough to eat, you feel like running.”

Wanda plans to launch the China World Marathon Major in two or three years, he added.

Many Chinese cities have hosted marathons in recent years, but none attracted significant numbers of international participants.

WMM is the world’s largest marathon series, similar to the Grand Slam in tennis. It oversees high-profile races such as the Boston Marathon and the Olympic Games Marathon.

The financial terms of the agreement between Wanda and WMM are unclear.

Wanda has agree to stage three WMM races in the Asia-Pacific in the coming decade including one in China, which will be the first time a WMM race has been held in a developing country.

Wanda bought AMC Entertainment Holdings — owner of US-based cinema chain AMC Theaters — for US$2.6 billion in 2012. Last year, it acquired Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion.

In 2015, Wanda paid 45 million euros (US$48 million) for 20 percent of Atletico Madrid football club.


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