Mixed martial arts firm ONE Championship lays groundwork for a U.S. IPO

By Thomson Reuters Aug 31, 2022 | 4:09 AM

By Andrew Mills

DOHA (Reuters) – Group ONE Holdings, the parent company of martial arts and gaming firm ONE Championship, is planning for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States once market conditions are optimal to drive its global expansion, its chief executive said.

To lay the ground work, the firm is changing its legal domicile to the Cayman Islands from Singapore, Chatri Sityodtong, who is also ONE’s founder, told Reuters in a Zoom interview earlier this month.

ONE Championship has become Asia’s largest sports media player, according to Nielsen, a global audience measurement and data analytics company.

In June, Sityodtong told an economic event in Qatar that ONE is valued at $1.4 billion.

The company does not have an expected date for the IPO.

“A few things have to happen, as kind of preconditions. You have to be in a strong stock market, so you’re getting the right valuation, but also so that the stock performs after you go public,” Sityodtong said.

A strong global economy was also important to ensure the company has “tailwinds”, he said, adding that neither of those preconditions are in place now.

A potential IPO is one of several options ONE is considering in order to raise capital, Sityodtong said, without elaborating.

The startup has backing from Sequoia Capital, its largest institutional investor, and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

ONE now draws an average of 50 million viewers per event compared to around 40,000 viewers six years ago, Sityodtong said in June.

“The next step for us is definitely going global. Whether we’re hosting events in Qatar or Europe, or North America, those are all in the plans for the next 12 months or so,” he said.

ONE has signed a partnership with Media City Qatar following Qatar’s investment in the company eight months ago. Next year, it will shoot part of its Netflix reality series ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition’, in the Gulf Arab state.

It also plans to establish studios in the Qatari capital Doha to host live martial arts events and is considering opening a regional headquarters in the Gulf Arab state, Sityodtong said.

(Reporting by Andrew Mills; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)