JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan is in talks to buy the British operations of gym chain Fitness First.
The multi-millionaire business tycoon's DW Sports is set to fork out £70m for a takeover of the business, Sky News reported.
Whelan, who also owns Wigan Athletic FC, has been in talks with Fitness First for over a month. He reportedly wants to combine the gym chain's outlets with the 70-strong chain of DW health clubs.
A stock market float for the combined group could also be on the cards for 2018.
Whelan is expected to seal the deal in several weeks. Other bidders interested in Fitness First include OpCapita, the former owner of Comet, and Advent International, which is headed by Fitness First's former CEO Andrew Cosslett.
In 2015, Fitness First reported losses of almost £100m thanks to restructuring costs. The chain, which was acquired by Oaktree Capital Management in 2012, entered into a company voluntary arrangement in 2013 in a bid to stave off administration.
In total, Fitness First has more than 370 clubs and around one million members globally.