Christo Wiese’s BRAIT to buy 80% of British health club Virgin Active

Billionaire Christo Wiese’s Brait, South Africa’ largest private equity company, will buy 80 percent of British health club Virgin Active for about R12-billion, a move that put a stop to plans for the upmarket gym’s Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group will keep a 20 percent stake in the health club.

Brait is cash flush after it sold Pepkor for R26.4-billion last year.

Branson founded Virgin Active in 1999. Its 267 clubs in nine countries has 1.3-million members.

About 60 percent of Virgin Active’s profits are generated in South Africa.

Christo Wiese is the fifth richest African, according to Forbes, with a net worth of R65-billion.

Need more detail? Listen to the audio (scroll down) for our interview of Brait CEO John Gnodde and a clip from Richard Branson himself.

We’re focusing on growing this business going forward. The management team is excited about the future.

John Gnodde, Brait CEO

This business has an excellent financial track record. It’s an great cash flow generator. Earnings are very predictable and the brand is very strong. It’s got great potential for growth.

John Gnodde, Brait CEO

New clubs in Asia are opening. This model can be rolled out in many different countries.

John Gnodde, Brait CEO

Our strategy is to look for opportunities and pick the best ones. We’re looking purely at the fundamentals.

John Gnodde, Brait CEO

I doubt we’ll be listing on the JSE. There’s no real need for it and we have no plans for it.

John Gnodde, Brait CEO

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