Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group are reportedly in talks to buy the Tour de France from its owners the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO).
Led by businessman Wang Jianlin, the company are widely believed to be interested in acquiring the rights to cycling’s Grand Tours, with ASO owning the Tour de France and having a stake in the Vuelta a España,
The French media group also hold the rights to several of cycling’s classics, such as the one-day races Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Last month, ASO were accused of failing to pay a sum of €140,000 (£100,000/$150,000) to the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) for hosting the start of this year’s race in Utrecht, with the International Cycling Union (UCI) requested to arbitrate.
The company are now reportedly in talks with Jianlin who has been expanding his portfolio, which includes cinemas and property, into the sports market in recent months.
According to the Hurun Report, a monthly magazine which publishes "China Rich List", in 2014 Jianlin, a former soldier in the People's Liberation Army, was the 26th richest person in the world with $25 billion (£16.5 billion/€23 billion)
His company have acquired the sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media and the World Triathlon Corporation, who own Ironman, leading to the creation of Wanda Sports to manage those interests.
Additionally, he bought a 20 per cent stake in Spanish football giants Atletico Madrid for €45 million (£32 million/$49 million) this April.
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf have claimed Jianlin has targeted adding “the Tour de France to its rich empire” while the Vuelta a España and Giro d'Italia would also be possibilities as a result.
The Giro d'Italia, currently owned by RCS Sport, is widely viewed as the most likely to be purchased by the Chinese businessman due to its parent company RCS Media Group’s reported debt of €440 million (£317 million/$481 million) meaning they could be forced to sell their sporting assets.
In addition to the Giro d'Italia, which staged its 98th edition this year, RCS Sport also own rights to several other WorldTour races including the Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico, Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour.
November 2015: Infront Sports & Media and World Triathlon Corporation to merge following purchase by Dalian Wanda Group
October 2015: China: the $790 billion sports market. That was the alluring vision for 2025 dangled before Sportel delegates in Monaco last week
August 2015: ITU President Marisol Casado congratulates Chinese conglomerate for joining the triathlon family
February 2015: Beijing 2022 Olympic bid potentially boosted as Dalian Wanda acquires Infront Sports & Media