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Planet Fitness Gets Renewed Energy from GE, Ad Campaign

NEWINGTON, NH -- No, Planet Fitness didn't get the private equity partnership it had been seeking earlier this year. But it did receive an influx of money last month in the form of a $40 million loan from GE Capital, Corporate Finance, a division of General Electric. The financing will be used for working and growth capital, and the revolving credit facility may be increased to $50 million under certain conditions.

Planet Fitness was close to a minority sale with private equity firm Goode Partners LLC, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

“How Goode was coming in was not really going to help our balance sheet like we thought it would, and it was actually going to make it tougher for us to get money in the future,” Planet Fitness Chairman Marc Grondahl says. “Some of the banks we were talking to were treating [the deal] more like debt as opposed to equity.”

Grondahl added that the deal was going to be worth about $100 million, with Planet Fitness retaining 55 percent to 58 percent ownership of the company.

Planet Fitness, Newington, NH, has more than 350 locations in 38 states with more than 2 million members. It opened 11 clubs last month and expects to open about 24 more by the end of the year.

The company rolled out a national Planet Fitness ad campaign, including 30-second TV commercials, last month. One spot, featuring a muscle-bound potential member filling out his membership application while flexing his, ahem, man boobs, generated more than 200,000 views on YouTube last month. Planet Fitness, known for its “judgment free zone,” wanted to stress in the campaign that “lunk heads” need not apply there.

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