MILAN (VN) — The Giro d’Italia and its sister races from Milano-Sanremo to Il Lombardia are not for sale. RCS Mediagroup instead announced Monday morning in its three-year plan that it would “focus on sports events.”
The Milan publishing house, under the weight of a $472 million debt, reportedly wanted to sell RCS Sport, the organizer of the Giro d’Italia and nine other cycling events. RCS Sport is cycling’s biggest race organizer behind ASO.
“Absolutely, the sale of RCS Sport is not being considered at all,” a spokesperson for RCS Mediagroup told VeloNews. “Instead, it’s a strategic asset that will be invested in.”
According to a report in financial newspaper Milano Finanza last week, three buyers are knocking on RCS Mediagroup’s door to buy RCS Sport. Along with Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, and his Wanda Sports group, Discovery Communications and IMG from the U.S. have been in contact. Wang purchased World Triathlon Corporation, which owns and organizes Ironman races, earlier this year.
Before the market opened in Milan, CEO Laura Cioli presented to investors RCS Mediagroup’s three-year plan to carry it through 2018. It wants to ensure sustainable economics, extract the most from its assets “by profoundly transforming its business,” and create foundations for growth.
The Giro, first raced in 1909, received a special nod in the eight action points listed. RCS said that it wanted to “selectively invest in high-potential areas. Focus on sport events, especially cycling and running: full exploitation of the iconic formats (e.g. Giro d’Italia) along with international best practices; development of a broader system of competitive events; launch of new amateur and mass events.”
RCS Sport reported €45m turnover and €782,000 in losses ($48 million and $840,000) in 2014.
It is unclear how advanced talks were or are with Wanda, Discover, and IMG. Had RCS let it go, it would have turned over a large chunk of cycling to a newcomer with its portfolio of the Giro d’Italia, Milano-Sanremo, Il Lombardia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Strade Bianche, Roma Maxima, Milano-Torino, the Giro del Piemonte, the Abu Dhabi Tour, and the Dubai Tour.
Any deal would have further rocked cycling, which is still reeling from ASO’s decision to pull out of the UCI WorldTour in 2017.
Milano Finanza reported that RCS could sell Unidad Editorial, the Spanish group that publishes newspaper Marca and other titles, and focus on newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport. The latter began the Giro, which will celebrate its 100th edition in 2017, and RCS took over in 1977.
Times remain tough for Italy, which reached a new public debt high of $2.39 trillion this summer, and it is unclear if RCS could change its philosophy in 2016. RCS Sport is pushing ahead, however. In Tuscany later Monday, it will unveil the parcours of the 2016 Tirreno-Adriatico stage race.