Virgin buys back Bridgepoint stake in Virgin Active for £134.5 million


Bridgepoint has sold its interest in health and fitness business Virgin Active for £134.5 million following an agreement with Virgin Group to acquire its 55 per cent stake.

Bridgepoint first acquired its stake in February 2002 when it agreed a £110 million partnership with the group to fund expansion of the chain. Since then the business has doubled the number of clubs it has in the UK, entered the Italian and Spanish markets and increased its portfolio in South Africa.

Following the recent transaction to acquire further clubs from Esporta, Virgin Active has 25 clubs in the UK, 77 clubs in South Africa and 12 clubs in continental Europe. The group has 635,000 members worldwide.

Welcoming the deal, Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group said: "Virgin Active has a fantastic quality and value for money approach to the health club market. Bridgepoint has been a great partner, growing the business with us in specific territories in Europe in the difficult investment climate that followed September 11th. We now wish to take the concept to a wider global market and as part of that process offered to buy out Bridgepoint. I would like to thank them for their support over the last three years."

Commenting on the sale, Patrick Fox, director of Bridgepoint, said: "Virgin Active has been a high performing business whose differentiated product has been well received both here in the UK and in new markets it has entered. We are pleased to have played a role in helping the concept roll out into Europe and wish management well as they now look to take the business into other parts of the world."

Advisers involved in this transaction included: for Bridgepoint - Travers Smith (legal); for Virgin Active - New Boathouse Capital (corporate finance), Allen & Overy (legal) and Macfarlanes (legal); for Management - Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher (legal). The sale is subject to relevant competition clearances.

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