China’s Wanda Group and WME / IMG are understood to be among the bidders for Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s largest mixed martial arts promoter.
Other reported bidders are said to include China Media Capital and investment group Blackstone Group.
The value of the deal is in the $3.5 -$4 billion range, according to sources, quoted by sports network ESPN. UFC president, Dana White denied that the private company is up for sale. Other sources said that Goldman Sachs is representing Zuffa, the parent company of UFC.
In the past year, both of the Chinese companies have made dramatic expansions from their core businesses into sports.
Wanda, which previously branched from property into entertainment, last year acquired sports marketing giant Infront and has a minority stake in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid. More recently it acquired World Triathlon, the endurance event organizer and promoter.
China Media Capital, which is a partner in Oriental Dreamworks and is partnered with Warner Bros. in Flagship Entertainment, earlier this year bought a stake in English soccer team Manchester City. It also agreed to pay over $1 billion for several years of rights to Chinese soccer broadcasting.
The interest for them – along with competitors Le Eco and Tencent – stretches from control of broadcast rights, but extends to event management and integration of sports into their ecosystems or growing platforms of interconnected services.