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Taking stock: In $4B deal, Life Time Fitness to become private company

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Twin Cities-based Life Time Fitness will be bought by two private equity firms in a deal that's valued at $4 billion, the high-end health club chain announced Monday.

Life Time's board of directors unanimously approved the deal between Leonard Green & Partners, TPG and LNK Partners, the company said in a news release. The deal, which is subject to shareholders' approval, is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

This is one of the largest leveraged buyouts in the U.S. so far this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

This agreement means Life Time Fitness will become a private company – the firms in the deal will purchase or acquire Life Time's stock. Current CEO Bahram Akradi committed $125 million of his Life Time stock to the deal.

Akardi, who started the company in 1992, will stay on as chief executive and president, the news release says.

The merger prices Life Time at $72.10 per share, the release says, which is more than $5 over the closing price Friday, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports.

“Following a comprehensive review by Life Time’s board of directors of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value, we are pleased to have reached this agreement, which provides our shareholders with immediate and substantial cash value representing a significant premium to our unaffected share price,” said Akradi.

Life Time Fitness, along with other fitness centers, have faced increasing competition from lower-cost or niche gyms, such as CrossFit and SoulCycle, Bloomberg says.

Last year, after facing pressure from its biggest shareholder to consider options to "speed up existing expansion plans," Bloomberg notes, the company said it was considering splitting into two companies – one that would operate the fitness centers, while the other would be a real estate investment trust, the Wall Street Journal says.

Life Time Fitness operates 114 fitness centers across the United States and Canada, including 23 in the Twin Cities, the company's website says.

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