Virgin Active-owner Brait seeks UK listing, new funding

The Virgin Active Gaborone (Supplied)
The Virgin Active Gaborone (Supplied)

Johannesburg - Brait SE, the South African investment company that owns UK 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 on Wednesday. Brait [JSE:BAT] plans to move its registered office to the UK from San Gwann, Malta ahead of the float, it said.

“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 significantly increased its exposure to the UK 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 were trading 2.2% higher at R117.74 by 13:32 on the JSE on Thursday.

On Wednesday the shares dropped 0.8% to R115.20, extending losses this year to 30%, after more than doubling in 2015. The announcement was made after trading in the South African market had closed.

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