Nordic Capital buys fitness assets

Nordic has become the leading health and fitness operator in Scandinavia with the acquisition of the local assets of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide.

Nordic Capital has backed the management buyout of the Nordic operations of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, which operates health and fitness centres in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Nordic Capital will take an 84 per cent stake in the business, which comprises S.A.T.S Sports Club in Sweden, S.A.T.S in Norway and Form & Fitness in Denmark. The consolidated group will have a total turnover of around SEK1bn (E100m) and will become the leading fitness chain operator in the Nordic countries with 200,000 members in its wholly-owned clubs and an additional 65,000 members in its franchised clubs.

Financial terms for the transaction have not been disclosed. Anders Hultin, partner at Nordic Capital, commented:“We have acquired a business with a strong brand name in the Nordic region and given the continuing growth in the sector worldwide, we see the business as an interesting IPO candidate with high profitability and good growth opportunities.”

Nordic is buying the business from 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, the second-largest fitness club operator in the US which is currently in the process of disposing of its European assets. “I think we were in a good position to acquire the business because we were looking to get involved at a time when 24 Hour Fitness was looking to dispose of some of its overseas operations,” said Hultin.

The health and fitness sector has been an increasingly active area for private equity investors recently – particularly for listed businesses in the UK – as the public markets lose their appetite for a sector that has seen gym membership level out following a boom in membership in the mid to late 1990s. Bridgepoint Capital is currently in negotiations with upmarket chain Holmes Place over a possible £150m bid for the firm, adding to its earlier investment in Virgin Active. Duke Street Capital recently agreed the details of a public-to-private deal to acquire Esporta plc for £145m.