24 Hour Fitness President and CEO Carl Liebert Resigns

Carl Liebert has resigned as president and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, effective May 17. (Photo courtesy of 24 Hour Fitness.)

24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Holdings Inc., San Ramon, CA, announced today that president and CEO Carl Liebert has resigned, effective Friday.

Liebert has accepted the role as president of USAA Capital Corp., a San Antonio-based financial services company, 24 Hour Fitness said in a press release.

“24 Hour Fitness confirms that Carl Liebert has decided to pursue a new career opportunity, effectively concluding his role as president and chief executive officer on May 17, 2013," the company said in a statement. "24 Hour Fitness remains committed to helping people improve their lives through fitness and is grateful for the contributions he made during his tenure that have helped build our company into a fitness industry leader. We wish him the best of luck in his next endeavor.”

Liebert's resignation comes two months to the day after he announced 12 layoffs in the 24 Hour executive team and other organizational moves within the company. A source tells Club Industry that Liebert had intended to resign just a few days after that announcement, but a member of the 24 Hour board of directors encouraged Liebert to stay with the company, according to the source. 24 Hour declined to comment on whether Liebert had intended to resign in March.

Liebert came to 24 Hour Fitness in 2006 from The Home Depot, where he served as executive vice president. The appointment was made a year after Forstmann Little and Co., the New York-based private equity firm, purchased 24 Hour Fitness for $1.6 billion from 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, who stayed with the company as chairman of the board until he resigned in 2008.

"We are all grateful for the dynamic leadership and vision that Carl has provided for our company since November 2006," 24 Hour Fitness Chair Kathleen Broderick said in a statement. "We will miss Carl and we wish him all the best in his new position."

Office of the Chair Announced

Broderick also said that pending the selection of a new CEO, 24 Hour will be managed through the Office of the Chair, which includes: Elizabeth Blair, executive vice president, chief strategy officer and general counsel; Jeff Boyer, executive vice president and chief operating officer; and Patrick Flanagan, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

David King, a long-time director of 24 Hour Fitness and senior managing director of Culpeper Capital Partners LLC, and Winston Hutchins, general partner of Forstmann Little and Co., also will serve as advisors in the Office of the Chair.

"We are very excited about the opportunities that we see for growth in 24 Hour Fitness," Hutchins said today from New York on behalf of Forstmann Little. "We look forward to working with our more than 21,000 colleagues to continue to build on the momentum that everyone in the company is feeling these days."

24 Hour declined to provide further details on today's announcement to Club Industry.

In 2012, Forstmann Little withdrew 24 Hour from a private sale process that was initiated earlier in the year. Forstmann Little said that moving to a final sale under the market conditions at the time "was not in the best interests of the shareholders."

For the ninth consecutive year, 24 Hour was No. 1 on Club Industry's Top 100 Clubs list in 2012 with an estimated $1.5 billion in 2011 revenue.

USAA Capital Corp. would seem like a natural fit for Liebert. The company, which operates as a subsidy of the United Services Automobile Association, services the military and their families. Liebert graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was a teammate on the Navy basketball team in the 1980s with Hall of Famer David Robinson, who played in San Antonio for the NBA's Spurs and still lives in the San Antonio area. In 2010, Robinson's Admiral Capital Group, an investment firm, formed a partnership with the USAA Real Estate Co. to create the Admiral Capital Real Estate Fund.

Liebert was elected to USAA's board of directors in 2011. He has resigned his seat on the board to join USAA's management team, according to a press release today from USAA Capital Corp. As president, Liebert will lead USAA Federal Savings Bank, Investments, Life Insurance Co. and Real Estate Co.

"As a 27-year member of the association and a former naval officer, I couldn't be more pleased to join USAA's leadership team," Liebert said in a statement. "The company's growth trajectory, commitment to innovation and its strong history of service to the military community are very compelling, and I'm looking forward to contributing to that continued success."

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