Providence to explore the finishing potential for Ironman

The rise of triathlon as a sport over the last 10 years has been pretty phenomenal. Having become a “main street” sport and a sport often attracting affluent participants, the number of entrants in triathlon events of all distances and on a global basis has increased dramatically. Inevitably many triathletes start with much shorter distances, but graduate quickly to the holy grail of races; an Ironman, a gruelling race comprising a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.  The Ironman race brand owned by World Triathlon Corporation features over 180 different races in all continents of the world, many of which sell out within minutes of registrations opening on the internet and at entry prices ranging between a couple of hundred pounds and several hundred, there is clearly an increasing appetite for the events.

Providence Equity acquired the company back in September 2008 and are now reported to be exploring options to exit either via a trade sale or an IPO. The price paid by Providence back in 2008 was undisclosed at the time, but given the obvious growth the company has gone through in terms of the number of races offered and numbers of competitors taking part, I personally can’t see a sale providing anything other than a significant ROI for Providence. I could also imagine that this would be the sort of company that if an IPO were the chosen exit route for Providence there would be substantial interest in the shares from the broader triathlete community, in addition to the usual institutional investing community. This is one potential deal that may well end up being more of a sprint rather than a marathon!