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Breaking news: Professional Triathletes Organisation seeks to acquire IRONMAN

A new era? The Professional Triathletes Organisation is seeking the acquisition of IRONMAN and its mass participation business

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Bold move as Professional Triathletes Organisation seeks ‘self-determination’

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Former Elite British triathlete, Sam Renouf, appointed new CEO

Well, I didn’t see that one coming.

What started as a collective of athletes in a room prior to Challenge Bahrain 2014 emerged as the Professional Triathletes Union (PTU). In 2016, that group re(grouped?) as the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) under the leadership of new CEO, Charles Adamo.

To date, their most notable (to the outside world) public presence has been the announcement of the Collins Cup, a ‘Ryder Cup for Triathlon’. Announced in 2016 (HERE), the debut event was set for 2018 at Challenge Roth – and then subsequently delayed until 2019 – and then that was postponed again. As of today, the Collins Cup website has a ‘Coming in 2020’ banner. You could be forgiven for thinking that was a lot of talk with no delivery.

Whether the Collins Cup will ever see the light of day I don’t know, but with an active Twitter account – and a consistent willingness to highlight what it sees as massive flaws in the current operation of the Ironman brand in relation to Professional athletes (examples below) – the PTO/Collins Cup hasn’t gone away.

Many would (and have) pointed fingers towards the PTO given its apparent (public) lack of delivery to date, but despite issues with the Collins Cup, a “we are still working away behind the scenes” message has been their consistent response.

Based on today’s announcement, it would appear they were indeed busy – as the PTO have approached The Wanda Sports Group to buy IRONMAN and its related mass participation assets.

With Charles Adamo now Chairman of the PTO, they have also announced former British Elite triathlete Sam Renouf as their new Chief Executive Officer.

This raises as many questions as it answers – and we will be speaking to the key stakeholders very soon – but for now, here is the full press release, along with a copy of the proposal sent to Wanda Sports (which includes willingness to proceed with an “all-cash transaction” – which would likely be counted in multiple units of hundreds of millions of dollars).

SEE COPY OF PTO LETTER TO WANDA SPORTS HERE


PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETES ORGANISATION APPOINTS SAM RENOUF CEO

APPROACHES WANDA SPORTS BOARD PROPOSING TO ENTER INTO DISCUSSIONS TO ACQUIRE IRONMAN® ASSETS

The Professional Triathletes Organisation today announced that it has appointed Sam Renouf as its Chief Executive Officer and that it has sent a letter to the Board of Directors of The Wanda Sports Group proposing to enter into discussions to acquire its Ironman® and related mass participation assets, a copy of which is attached.

Sam Renouf had previously been CEO of MOTIV Group and before that was part of the executive leadership team at ACTIVE Network, leading its global sports business. Charles Adamo, Chairman of the PTO, commented “Sam’s professional breadth and experience in triathlon and the mass participation industry makes him ideally suited to lead the PTO and its commercial endeavours. Sam has a great vision for the PTO’s potential and the skills and energy to realise it.”

A former elite triathlete from Great Britain, Renouf also served as a commentator for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Rachel Joyce, Co-President of the PTO, stated that “As a former elite athlete who has transitioned into a sports executive, Sam is fully aware of the demands of our sport and his business experience will allow him to navigate triathlon’s sizable commercial potential”.

Renouf commented, “It is an honour to be joining the PTO. From my first meeting with its leadership team and its bankers, North Point Advisers, it became clear to me that they are uniquely positioned to unleash the value in our sport and take it to the next level both economically and in popularity.”

He continued, “This is about the natural evolution towards athlete self-determination and the PTO is set to follow the well-trodden path of other sports like golf and tennis, where the professionals took on the responsibility to nurture and grow their sport, alongside other stakeholders. The time has come to end the era where over leveraged investors exploit our community for short term gains. The PTO, working with our financial advisors and certain selected partners, will be able to operate in a manner that produces healthy investment returns, while at the same time developing our sport based on a solid, growing sustainable model. We have, therefore, sent a letter to the Board of Directors of Wanda Sports requesting that we begin discussions relating to the acquisition of its Ironman® and mass participation business. We have every confidence that the PTO and its partners will succeed in this endeavour and look forward to the next chapter of the incredible sport of Triathlon.”

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.

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