LONDON – South African investment firm Brait has provisionally agreed to buy 80% of Virgin Active for $1bn (£673m).
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group will retain a 20% holding in the chain, which owns 267 gyms in nine countries.
Private equity firm CVC Capital, which jointly owned the health club with Virgin Group, sold its stake entirely.
Brait’s primary listing is on the MTF exchange in Luxembourg, with a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
The group also has an almost 20% stake in the UK’s Iceland Foods.
Brait said it would fund the deal from cash reserves.
The deal is subject to approval from South African competition authorities.
“Virgin Active is a business that we are proud to have been associated with from the very beginning, over 15 years ago,” said Sir Richard.
“We are delighted that we will continue to play a part in this alongside Brait, another long-term investor with a strong track record in growing businesses.”
Brait’s chief executive, John Gnodde, said that “Virgin Active’s successful track record, high cash generation and exciting growth prospects in both emerging and developed markets make this an attractive opportunity” for the company and its shareholders.