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Anytime Fitness's Asia buyer bets on post-lockdown gym craze

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A consortium that acquired Anytime Fitness's business in Asia is betting that people will flock to gyms when they reopen to boost their immunity from the coronavirus.

[MANILA] A consortium that acquired Anytime Fitness's business in Asia is betting that people will flock to gyms when they reopen to boost their immunity from the coronavirus.

Inspire Brands Asia acquired the master franchise for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore and the rest of South-east Asia where Anytime Fitness has more than 250 gyms. The consortium, composed of top franchisees in the region, Exacta Capital Partners and Aura Group, expects to double its gyms to more than 500 in the next three years even as most markets won't reopen until June and July, chief executive officer Luke Guanlao said in an interview. He didn't disclose the purchase price.

"Immunity has become second only to social distancing as a buzzword, and people are now more aware of actively maintaining their health," Anytime Fitness Asia chief growth officer Johannes Raadsma said. When its gyms in Hong Kong reopened in early May, usage even surpassed levels before the pandemic, he said.

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Anytime Fitness Asia's compound annual growth rate of 49 per cent in franchise sales and 55 per cent in gym openings in the last four years were driven by Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. New markets Vietnam and Indonesia are expected to drive growth in the next three years.

The acquisition is "noteworthy not just in private equity, but also in M&A (mergers and acquisitions) history. Completing the deal amidst this black swan backdrop involved not only an assessment of the brand and its capacity to withstand enforced gym closures, but also a long-term outlook on the industry," Aura Group executive director Charles Wong said.

Anytime Fitness Asia is doubling down on its virtual business to reach customers who can't visit the gym, Mr Raadsma said.

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