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Mark Wahlberg Backs Australian Fitness Franchise F45 Training

Mark Wahlberg Investment Group and FOD Capital are buying a minority stake in F45 Training, a fitness franchise that will use the capital to fuel its global expansion.

Mark Wahlberg and F45 Training

The deal for the closely-held company, which was founded in Sydney, Australia, in 2012, values it at roughly $450 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. Founder Rob Deutsch said in an interview that F45 had been searching for a strategic partner for more than two years when its patience paid off with Wahlberg, whose Hollywood credits include starring roles in “The Departed” and “The Fighter.”

“Mark has so many traits that we feel align with us,” Deutsch said. “He’s obviously very into fitness, he’s a very shredded man with a very clean brand.”

Investors have been flocking to boutique fitness studios like F45, encouraged by increasing consumer spending on wellness. FOD Capital is a little-known family office managed by Michael Raymond.

Wahlberg said in an interview that F45’s appeal is that it brings such a diverse assortment of people together for a workout that delivers results.

“I’m a fitness fanatic and I fell in love with F45 after I walked into a gym and saw people from all walks of life, all levels of fitness, working out together,” said Wahlberg, who first tried the studio last November.

The company has more than 1,500 studios in 40 countries and partnerships with two dozen universities including Stanford and Texas. It may open as many as 10,000 franchises alone in North America, and also sees opportunity in Europe, Asia and South America, Deutsch said. He’s nearing a deal to offer the workout on a cruise line and is developing a software-based product for hotels.

“We’re selling roughly 50 franchises a month and we’re confident it’ll ramp up to 70 to 80 a month by the end of 2019 to well over 2,000,” he said.

Fitness Deals

Wahlberg, 47, has other fitness-related investments. He backs StockX, a startup focused on sneaker resales, Aquahydrate, a water brand, and natural workout supplement maker Performance Inspired Nutrition.

F45 refers to the concept of functional team training for 45 minutes across stations where members do cardiovascular, strength and interval training such as rowing, push-ups and weights-based exercises.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Baker McKenzie advised F45. The company’s revenues and earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization have grown at compounded annual rates of more than 125 percent and 130 percent since 2016, respectively, to $62 million and $23 million at the end of 2018.

Last week, TSG Consumer Partners acquired CorePower Yoga from L Catterton, which is also an investor in fitness companies ClassPass and Peloton. TPG in 2017 formed Xponential Fitness, which owns brands including Club Pilates, Row House and CycleBar.

Fitness chains are favored by retail landlords who have enhanced their experiential offerings to consumers who increasingly buy apparel and other goods online. Planet Fitness Inc. referred to its reputation as a “desired tenant for shopping centers” in a filing earlier this month.

Wahlberg said that F45 will be his “go-to workout” when he’s not involved in specific training for his next acting gig. He’s currently aiming to reduce muscle mass for his upcoming role.

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