One Championship unveils plans post Temasek tie-up

Sports media property One Championship has entered into definitive agreements in a consortium led by investment firm Heliconia Capital Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings.

In a conversation with Marketing, a spokesperson for the brand confirmed that the partnership is valued at “eight figures” in US dollars. With mixed martial arts (MMA) being one of the fastest growing sport in Asia currently, the sport has seen exponential growth by over 30 times in the past decade, he added.

With the partnership with Heliconia, MMA now stands to gain a fair amount of traction and funds to boost its content offering through live events and broadcasts, both  regionally and globally. The sports media owners added that the deal puts it on the path to exceed the US$1 billion valuation within the next 12 to 18 months. Presently, it has grown at triple-digit percentage for the past five years.

In a press statement Derek Lau, CEO of Heliconia said: “We believe One Championship can potentially be the next big thing for consumers in Asia. They have the right product for Asia, they understand Asia and know how to monetise the value proposition in various ways in the new economy.”

With the partnership, there are also plans underway for One Championship to strengthen its foothold across Asia. Currently it has offices in  Shanghai, China and plans are in the pipeline to reach out to East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea to strengthen its Asian presence and identity, said the spokesperson.

Over the years, One Championship has grown its roster of sponsors boasting global brands such as Disney, Facebook, Marvel, Under Armour, Sony, Universal Music Group, L’Oreal, and others. It has also built up its local and international athlete base and aims to develop these athletes into “true Asian heroes” to inspire fans across the region.

In a statement to Marketing, Chatri Sityodtong, founder and chairman of one championship, said that the brand has, in the last five years, gone global with a broadcast reach to over 1 billion homes across 118 countries around the world. We have consistently broken attendance records at many of the largest stadiums across Asia. He added that the partnership is a big boost to the MMA industry as a whole.

“For us, this investment by Heliconia represents a strong vote of confidence and a belief in the value that One Championship can bring. This partnership will unlock additional markets and opportunities for One Championship,” Victor Cui, CEO of One Championship, added.

What this means for the sports marketing industry

Stuart Ramalingam, VP of Dentsu Sports Asia lauded the effort saying “it is fantastic” to see such an investment coming from a government investment arm.

“This is a long-term play and it is great to see such an active role being played by Temasek to invest and develop the industry. Indeed, it is a statement of the viability of the commercial sports business in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lee Ark Boon, CEO of IE Singapore, traditional media and entertainment companies in Asia are facing strong headwinds with declining content sales and advertising revenues.

“One Championship’s focus to identify and create unique content with a global appeal is a decision which shows foresight,” Lee added.


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