Private Equity firms to bid for fitness group?

Private equity firms Cinven and Candover are said to be interested in acquiring Cannons, which has more than 60 gyms in the UK.

Private equity firms Cinven and Candover are believed to have made informal bids of more than £220m for health and fitness group Cannons.

Cannons effectively put itself up for sale in December 2000, issuing a statement which said: “The Board of Cannons Group PLC believes that the current market valuation of the company does not reflect the true underlying performance or potential of the Group and is consequently addressing the issue of maximising shareholder value. In conjunction with its advisors Close Brothers Corporate Finance, the Board is carrying out a strategic review of all the options available to the company including discussions with third parties and other corporate initiatives.”

Cannons is one of the UK’s largest fitness club operators with more than 60 gyms. Shares in the company, which had pre-tax profits of £11.4m and turnover of £69.1m in the last financial year, had fallen nearly 50 per cent from their peak of 223p in 1999 when the company announced its strategic review.

In 1999, talks between Cannons and First Leisure to merge their health and fitness businesses broke down over price. Shares in the company currently stand at 140p.