LGV acquires UK fitness group

In its fourth and final acquisition from its 2003 fund, Legal & General Ventures has acquired UK gym operator Total Fitness for a reported £80m.

Legal & General Ventures (LGV), the London-based private equity arm of UK insurer Legal & General Group, has acquired a majority shareholding in UK health and fitness centre operator Total Fitness. LGV declined to disclose any financial information regarding its investment, but a source close to the firm said the deal valued the company at approximately £80 million (€121 million; $147 million). 

Total Fitness operates 21 health and fitness centres located primarily in the North West of England and has a total membership in excess of 150,000.

The investment is fthe ourth and, according to LGV chief executive Adrian Johnston, final investment from the £155 million LGV III 2003 fund. LGV III also invested in Warner Village, since renamed Vue Cinemas, alongside US private equity house Boston Capital; UK golf centre operator Clubhaus; and diagnostoic service provider LGC.

LGV raises fresh capital on an annual basis. Earlier this month, the firm held a final closing of its 2004 Fund IV on £180 million.

Fund III was introduced to Total Fitness by corporate finance advisory firm Hawkpoint, which advised on the acquisition.

The transaction was led for LGV by Ivan Heywood, managing director, who said in a statement: “Total Fitness has a unique offering in the health and fitness sector and we are keen to continue the successful roll out of its facilities.” Assisting on the transaction were director Michael Mowlem and assistant director Jo Parfrey.

The leisure sector is an important one for LGV, which has also made a number of significant exits in this area this year. In May, the firm sold its stake in London-based exhibition venue company Earls Court & Olympia alongside European private equity house Candover.

Earlier in 2004, the firm exited UK caravan parks operator Bourne Leisure and sold its stake in The Unique Pub Company.

The UK health and fitness club sector has attracted significant private equity interest in recent years. In 2003, London private equity house Cinven backed the £204 million public-to-private of UK and European operator Fitness First.

Mid-market UK firm Bridgepoint invested €307.5 million in the MBO of UK fitness club operator Holmes Place also in 2003, while London-headquartered Duke Street Capital acquired fitness specialist Esporta for £140 million in the same year.