Virgin Active Owner Brait Seeks London Listing, New Funding

Updated on
  • Brait plans to move head office to the U.K. from Malta
  • Will keep listing in Johannesburg after the London relocation

Brait SE, the South African investment company that owns U.K. chains Virgin Active and New Look, plans to trade its shares on the London Stock Exchange and will consider selling new equity to fund future deals.

A capital raising could take place at the same time as the proposed London listing, the company, whose biggest shareholder is South African billionaire Christo Wiese, said in a statement after the South African market closed on Wednesday. Brait plans to move its registered office to the U.K. from San Gwann, Malta ahead of the float, it said. The investment group also has listings in Luxembourg and Johannesburg.

“The company is at a size and stage of development where it has become increasingly important that it can offer its existing investors the benefits of a listing on a major international developed market,” Brait said. The move “would enhance the profile of Brait and improve its access to a wider range of international investors and deeper pools of capital to support any future capital raise.”

The decision marks a new chapter in the development of Brait, which took its name from a word for an uncut diamond and first raised a private equity fund in 1991. The company significantly increased its exposure to the U.K. last year by acquiring majority stakes in fitness chain Virgin Active and clothing retailer New Look and boosting its holding in discount grocer Iceland. South Africa Chief Executive Officer John Gnodde said in June that the businesses are “strong enough” to withstand any repercussions from the country’s vote to leave the European Union.

Brait will keep its listing in Johannesburg after the move to London, which must be approved by shareholders. The shares gained 2.7 percent to 118.36 rand as of 1:54 p.m. in Johannesburg on Thursday, paring losses this year to 28 percent. The stock more than doubling in 2015.

(Updates share price in final paragraph.)
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