Temasek unit Heliconia strikes mixed martial arts deal

HeliconIa snaps up Singapore-based mixed martial arts promoter ONE Championship just two days after a group led by Silver Lake fought off rival buyers to seize another MMA business, Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Heliconia Capital Management, a wholly-owned unit of state investment firm Temasek Holdings, has bought mixed martial arts (MMA) promoter ONE Championship, Heliconia said in a statement this week.

The value of the deal was not disclosed but is reportedly an eight figure sum, and is said to value ONE Championship at $1 billion by the end 2017, according to its founder Chatri Sityodtong.

The investment will be used to expand the number of MMA events across Asia, especially in China.

The transaction comes just two days after Las Vegas-based MMA organisation Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was sold to sports and entertainment company WME-IMG. Private equity heavyweights Silver Lake Capital Partners, KKR, and Michael Dell’s family office MSD Capital backed the deal, seeing off rival buyers which reportedly included Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group and state-backed China Media Capital. The group reportedly paid roughly seven times UFC’s annual earnings, which were about $600 million last year.

UFC fights are shown in pay-per-view broadcasts in more than 156 countries to more than 1.1 billion TV households, while ONE Championship events are broadcast in 118 countries to over 1 billion viewers.

Heliconia, which was founded in 2010, provides growth capital to small and medium enterprises in Singapore to help with their global expansion. The firm manages three funds – a direct investment fund which co-invests with other private equity investors, a mezzanine capital fund, and a fund of funds vehicle.

Heliconia has invested in about nine companies focused on urbanisation, technology, and the growing middle class. Its investments include fixtures manufacturer Futuristic Store Fixtures, construction firm Deluge Fire Protection, and seafood restaurant Jumbo.