Ashursts canters through Electra's disposal of Invicta to Duke Street

Ashurst Morris Crisp is acting for Electra Partners on its £140m disposal of Invicta Leisure to Duke Street Capital. Invicta is the latest in a rash of health and fitness businesses to be snapped up by successful private equity groups as the sector shies away from the capital markets.
The deal comes hot on the heels of Cannons' proposed private equity-backed merger with Holmes Place and Duke Street's earlier take-private of Esporta.
Duke Street plans to combine Invicta with Esporta following its hostile bid for the latter three months ago. The enlarged group will have more than 40 health and fitness clubs and will be the country's second largest health and fitness club operator with 260,000 members. The deal is set to complete by the end of 2003.
Invicta is part of the Electra Investment Trust. Electra Partners instructed Ashursts to advise it on the disposal of Invicta as part of a long-term plan to wind down Electra Investment Trust's assets.
Electra began this process in 1999 when it came under attack from a hostile bid from rival private equity house 3i. Electra repelled the bid by promising that it would dispose of Electra Investment Trust to realise the value for shareholders.
Ashursts partner David Carter led the team on the Invicta disposal but was unavailable for comment. But Ashursts corporate partner Charlie Geffen explained that the deal was done quickly because Duke Street had bought Esporta just three months ago.
Geffen observed that it is rare for private equity deals to turn around this quickly at present.
“Everybody is cautious and due diligence is taking a lot longer than it would have a few years ago,” he said.
But Ashursts' Electra relationship partner Bruce Hanton said this situation does not mean lawyers can charge more for advising on private equity deals.
“Deals are taking a long time as everybody is cautious, but there is a healthy pressure on fees. Also, there is not usually more legal work to be done as our work happens in fits and starts,” he said.
Duke Street Capital was represented by Clifford Chance. Partner Tim Wright led the team.