PE firms Circle Esporta

Private equity firms are understood to be already circling Esporta, the troubled UK health club operator whose parent company entered administration on Wednesday.

Reports claim that London & Regional, which runs the Next Generation Clubs and David Lloyd Leisure chains, MidOcean Partners, which owns LA Fitness, and Archie Norman-led investment firm Aurigo are all considering a move for Esporta.

Meanwhile, Virgin Active and Blackstone and CVC are also understood to be keen on acquiring the chain.

According to a report in UK daily The Independent, former Esporta chief executive Neil Gillis is in talks with interested suitors about returning to run the business.

Grant Thornton is reportedly handling parent Bell Leisure's administration and fielding interest in a possible sale of Esporta.

Many of the reported bidders lost out in last year's auction for Esporta, which saw entrepreneur Simon Halabi buy the business from private equity firm Duke Street Capital for Gbp480m (US$956m).