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Private equity firms JLM Financial Partners and Eagle Merchant Partners have created the largest Planet Fitness franchisee, United PF Partners, with 59 operating clubs in nine states.
The joint-venture partnership of United sees a positive investment field for its capital, where it says health club memberships have increased from 41.3 million in 2005 to 54.1 million in 2014.
United sees a strong niche for the Planet Fitness brand and its target consumer. After an initial public offering in August of 2015, franchisor Planet Fitness [NYSE:PLNT] had 976 locations then but now has more than 1,200 fitness clubs.
Money from Eagle and JLM will fuel club level improvements, new club buildouts, systems, management and infrastructure improvements to support growth. United wants to use its new capital and scale for growth by acquisition in contiguous geographies.
"I'm thrilled to be able to partner with some of the top franchisees in the Planet Fitness system to share best practices and create a leading enterprise," said Trey Owen, CEO of franchisee United PF. "We also are very pleased to join forces with Eagle, which has deep experience in building and leading large scale multi-unit franchise businesses."
Stockton Croft of Eagle adds, "This will be the ninth multi-unit investment made by the partners of Eagle and we are fully committed to the success of this great franchise in the Planet Fitness system."
United's leadership team, including its board, will include many of its joint franchisees; namely:
United's board members will also include directors from private investment firms JLM and Eagle, have multi-unit franchise and development experience.
"This was a very complex transaction that could not have been accomplished without the tremendous support we received from everyone involved in this merger including the executive and legal team at Planet Fitness Corporate based in New Hampshire," said Larry Meyer of JLM. Andrew Hirsekorn of Eagle adds, "We are very excited about the direction of the Planet Fitness brand with its superior value proposition and believe United PF is well positioned with a top-tier management team."
Financing for United PF was jointly led by co-agents and co-lead arrangers, Goldman Sachs Specialty Lending Group and AB Private Credit Investors. Antares was also a co-lead arranger.