Fitness First pulls £1.2bn Singapore IPO

GYM chain Fitness First has pulled its Singapore flotation as global market turmoil shows little sign of easing.

Private equity owner BC Partners was expected to raise around £500m in a listing which would have valued Fitness First at between £1bn and £1.2bn. It has postponed the initial public offering (IPO), however, because of the volatility sweeping international markets, and after similar moves by several other UK and US companies.

Fitness First has built a strong presence in the Far East, including in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia, and has more than 1.4m members in 17 countries in total.

City A.M. understands BC Partners has not yet decided when to re-attempt the listing but reports have suggested it could look elsewhere for an exit. Earlier this month CVC Capital Partners took a 51 per cent stake in Virgin Active in a deal valuing the gym group at about £900m.

The origins of Fitness First go back to 1992 when entrepreneurs Mike Balfour and Christopher Pearce set up their first club in Bournemouth before floating the outfit on the Alternative Investment Market four years later. Private equity house Cinven took over the company for £400m in 2001.

BC Partners, which declined to comment, has 19 portfolio companies with a total turnover of €32bn (£27.48bn). It bought Fitness First from Cinven at an enterprise value of £835m in 2005, vowing to help fuel the group’s international expansion.

Groupon’s $750m flotation is on hold while Facebook’s listing has been put back to next September or later.

Manchester United’s £640m listing in Singapore has also stalled.