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The Apprentice: One Championship Edition Singapore Premiere Photo by Edwin Koo/Getty Images for One Championship

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ONE Championship reports record high $110 million in losses for 2021, $383 million in total

ONE Championship’s finances are not looking good.

Despite all their big claims, ONE Championship’s losses continue to grow at an alarming rate.

In each of the last few years, Bloody Elbow has obtained copies of ONE Championship’s annual financial filings with ACRA, which is Singapore’s close equivalent to the SEC. When their 2020 numbers showed $48 million in losses for the year, ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong basically claimed fake news:

“I’ll just say like look, the internet is a dangerous place if you believe everything you read,” Sityodtong said in September 2021. “There was tons of inaccuracies, tons of errors, it’s not even like one or two, if it were just like one or two I would point it out. I mean like, it’s not worth addressing. Again, it’s like I said, um, like, I like to let the truth speak over time.”

A year later, Group One Holdings, the parent company to ONE Championship, has again filed their latest financial statements with ACRA. Bloody Elbow has secured a copy of these documents, and apart from again showing big losses in 2020, it also revealed how that number has more than doubled in 2021.

According to their recent filing, ONE’s losses in 2021 are now in triple digits at $111 million. With that enormous number, ONE’s has total accumulated losses of $383 million as of December 31, 2021.

Statement

Year 2021 2020
Year 2021 2020
Revenue 67,698 56,797
Cost of sales -35,327.00 -18,117
Other (expenses/)income -36,810 9,079
Marketing expenses -56,172 -46,836
Administration and other expenses -50,280 -49,401
Impairment los of trade receivables -97 -427
Loss before tax -110,988 -48,905
Income tax expense -56 -265
Loss net of tax -111,044 -49,170
In thousands (000s) of US dollars ($) Source: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS Year ended 31 December 2021 

ONE reported $56 million in “marketing expenses” and $50 million in “administration and other expenses” for the year.

These latest annual filings were signed on August 8, 2022 by two company directors, Chatri Trisiripisal (Sityodtong) and Teh Hua Fung, as well the public accounting firm Ernst & Young.

ONE Championship’s finances: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Chatri Sityodtong of ONE Championship. Photo by studioEAST/Getty Images

Increased revenue?

ONE reported their revenues for the year at $67.7 million. This total is a 19% increase from 2020’s $56.8 million. The majority of revenue came from broadcast rights, which total more than $50 million in 2021, a small increase from the $47 million they reported the previous year.

The second largest source of revenue for ONE was sponsorship income, which totaled $9.2 million in 2021, an almost 30% increase from 2020, when it totaled $7.1 million. Digital platform revenues where also noteworthy, seeing the largest increase from $1.75 million in 2020 to almost $7 million in 2021.

It’s worth noting however that ONE still includes non-cash components as part of their total revenue. Deal Street Asia, which was first to report on these latest filings, also pointed out how over 97% ($66.2M) of ONE’s total 2021 revenue is comprised of goods or services being transferred “over time” in the future.

GROUP REVENUES

Revenue 2021 2020
Revenue 2021 2020
Ticket revenue 86 105
Sponsorship income 9,220 7,145
Broadcasting revenue 50,094 47,078
Digital Platform revenue 6,969 1,754
Merchandise revenue 1,329 715
Total Revenue 67,698 56,797
In thousands (000s) of US dollars ($) Source: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS Year ended 31 December 2021 

Readers of last years financial statements might notice a discrepancy in what was reported last year and what this new filings shows for 2020. After revisiting “the estimation approach in determining the non-cash consideration for certain contracts” ONE has restated their broadcast revenues and marketing expenses.

An additional $8.6 million has been added to their 2020 broadcast revenues, which has mostly been offset by an $8.8M increase in marketing expenses. This restatement raises the question as to how much of their revenues is really from cash transactions and how much is it from barter.

ONE has used barter transactions in the past to apparently inflate their revenues. Starting in 2018 when Bloody Elbow and other outlets began reporting on their finances, ONE eliminated the category, and began grouping in barter transactions with broadcast and sponsorship revenues.

In their newest filing, ONE notes that “The Group recognises broadcasting and sponsorship revenue for cash and non-cash consideration.”

Management is required to use judgement to determine the fair value of non-cash consideration received and had relied on the rate cards provided by the sponsorship partners, after assessment of its rate cards at the contract inception to the publicly available market rates or quotes from vendors in similar business.

This has a corresponding impact on cost of sales recognised which will equate to the amount of revenue recognised.

It is impossible therefore to determine how much of their revenues from broadcasting and sponsorship or how much of their $56 million in marketing expenses, are still composed of these barter transactions.

A 2020 redeemable convertible loan note, which is debt that can later be converted into equity, would also account for a big chunk of both their reported capital and losses for 2021.

This stems from a June 2020 convertible note of $72 million plus interest, which was converted to preference shares on November 2021 with a valuation of around $93 million. They counted $56 million of that as share capital — almost a quarter of the total capital they raised in 2021 — and $38 million as a one-time fair value loss.


ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong speaking at SPORTel Asia
ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong speaking at SPORTel Asia
Photo by Sean Lee/Getty Images

Is this sustainable?

ONE’s ballooning losses have only been made possible by their prolific ability to raise money despite everything.

ONE started 2021 with a share capital balance of $274 million, but with only $88 million remaining in cash and fixed deposits. With the issuance of preference shares that year, they raised another $243 million ($56 million it from the convertible note.) As of December 31, 2021, the Company ended the year with $519 million in share capital, but reported only $172 million in cash and fixed deposits.

With ONE on pace to easily break past $400 million in accumulated losses in 2022, just how sustainable is this situation? Will they convince more investors that they’ll be able to turn things around?

That could be what ONE is banking on, with Sityodtong recently claiming they’re on track for double-digit revenue growth in 2022, and expects to be profitable in three years.

This is something Sityodtong and other ONE executives have been repeatedly claiming through the years though.

In 2017, Sityodtong told the Financial Times the company was “very, very close to profitability,” and ended the year with accumulated losses of $67 million dollars.

In 2018, they told Variety that “annual revenues of $100 million are imminent,” but had those losses grow to $126 million.

In 2019, Sityodtong told Business Insider that the UFC and ONE Championship were a global duopoly in combat sports, “UFC controls an 80% market share of the western hemisphere, but ONE Championship controls 90% of the market share in the Eastern hemisphere. And we’re the two big 800-pound gorillas in the industry.” They ended that year with $229 million in total losses.

In November 2020, Sityodtong told High Net Worth that “based on our current trajectory (even with COVID-19), I predict that ONE Championship will be profitable within 12 months and we are on track.” ONE laid off a significant percentage of its workers that year, and had accumulated losses of $273.

For 2021, they claimed the reports on their finances were false, and that the “truth” would come out eventually. Their latest filings show that losses ballooned to $383 million that year. ONE now excuses 2020 as an “anomaly” due to the pandemic, and just like every year, claims 2022 is great and profitability is about to happen.

“We continue to grow our revenue year-on-year and enhance our cost efficiencies. We’re confident that we’re on a clear path to build a sustainable and profitable business in the long term,” a Group ONE Holdings spokesperson said in a prepared statement sent to Bloody Elbow and other outlets that asked for comment on their finances.

“2020 was an anomaly due to the restrictions imposed upon us by the global pandemic as we were unable to host any live events for several months. In 2021 as restrictions started to lift, we were able to resume investment in our core product of live events.

“We’ve gone from strength to strength in 2022 with multiple partnerships launched across the world that will have a significant impact on our future revenue and profitability as we continue to grow our brand globally.”

ONE declined to comment on Bloody Elbow’s questions on the amount of non-cash transactions being included as “revenue” for the company.

The big claims ONE has made to the public have yet to match the actual figures they report to the government in private.

Going forward, it’ll probably also be a lot harder for people to dig up their finances. With ONE recently re-domiciling in the Caymans and their more opaque structure on business, this 2021 report could possibly be the last financial statement to be publicly accessible, until or unless the company goes public.

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