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Dealwatch: A&O, Linklaters and Slaughters take lead on Virgin Active sale to South Africa-listed Brait

Magic Circle trio Allen & Overy (A&O), Linklaters and Slaughter and May have taken instructions advising on Virgin Group’s £682m sale of an 80% stake in international health club operator Virgin Active to South African-listed private equity group Brait.

The Linklaters team advised Brait on the deal, which values Virgin Active at £1.3bn, led by private equity partners Alex Woodward and Stuart Boyd, alongside corporate partner Stuart Bedford and tax partner Tim Lowe. Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr took the lead advising Brait on South African law.

A&O advised Virgin Active working with general counsel Ashley Aylmer as well as the fitness chain’s management on Brait’s proposed acquisition. The transaction was led by the firm’s co-head of corporate Andrew Ballheimer, who is the relationship partner for Virgin Active and Virgin Group, and corporate partner Simon Toms. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher advised management shareholders with a team led by Mark Sperotto and Nicholas Aleksander.

Slaughter and May advised current owners Virgin Group and CVC on the sale with corporate partner Mark Zerdin leading a team including tax partner Dominic Robertson, and competition specialist Anna Lyle-Smythe.

The deal is expected to complete over the summer after which Brait will own 80% of Virgin Active with Virgin Group retaining 20% (excluding management). The existing management team will be retained, and will be reinvesting alongside Brait.