Mark Wahlberg-Backed Gym Chain F45 to Go Public

F45 Training Holdings Inc., a provider of group fitness classes backed by actor Mark Wahlberg, has struck a deal to go public by merging with blank-check company Crescent Acquisition Corp.

The deal, which confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report, is slated to value the combined companies at $845 million including debt, according to a statement Wednesday. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter.

The valuation means Wahlberg has likely made money on his investment. When he first bought a minority stake last year, the company was valued at about $450 million, a person said at the time. A representative for Wahlberg couldn’t immediately be reached.

Wahlberg invested through a private investment vehicle called MWIG LLC that will keep its board representation.

Chief Executive Officer Adam Gilchrist said in the statement that the company would keep helping people reach their fitness goals through its workout and nutrition plans.

“As a public company, I am confident that we will be able to accelerate our mission, while creating value for our shareholders,” Gilchrist said.

Crescent Acquisition’s Executive Chairman Robert Beyer and CEO Todd Purdy said in a combined statement that they believe in the company’s growth trajectory. “F45’s high profit margins, franchisee economics and repeatable business model position it for continued rapid expansion,” they said.

Crescent Acquisition’s shares were trading 4.3% lower at $10.89 in New York trading Wednesday.

The deal comes after F45 paused initial public offering plans for this year after the pandemic forced it to shut locations.

F45 is going public while some traditional gyms, which couldn’t weather the lockdown closures and lost revenue, are in distress. Gold’s Gym International Inc. filed for bankruptcy in May, followed by 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc. earlier this month.

Celebrity following

F45, whose name is a mash-up of “functional training” and the 45-minute duration of its classes, had confidentially filed paperwork to go public, Bloomberg News reported in January.

Los Angeles-based Crescent raised $250 million in an IPO in March 2019, which it will invest in the deal, along with another $50 million. The blank-check company is backed by Crescent Capital, a private lender and asset manager with more than $28 billion under management.

Before the pandemic, Wahlberg regularly posted from F45 on social media and has introduced it to celebrities including Mario Lopez, as well as basketball stars Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, former National Football League player Calvin Johnson and the National Hockey League’s Max Domi.

Classes are offered in at least 40 countries, including in the U.S. at colleges such as Stanford University and the University of Southern California. The sessions also feature wireless heart rate monitors, which the company calls LionHeart, that are linked to in-studio television displays.

Credit Suisse Group AG and Bank of America Corp. advised Crescent Acquisition, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised F45.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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