GymNation, the UAE’s leading gym operator, announces Management Buyout

Homegrown UAE fitness brand, GymNation, has proudly announced a management-led buyout of all equity held by previous investor, JD Gyms. The deal, backed by Tricap Investments and Ruya Partners, sees the GymNation founders and management team, Loren Holland, Frank Afeaki and Anthony Martland, become significant majority shareholders in the business they founded back in 2017.Tricap Investments is a diversified principal investment group with offices in Washington D.C. and Dubai, specialising in the execution of both direct and fund investments, and private equity transactions.Ruya Partners is an independent private credit firm based in Abu Dhabi whose investor base includes institutional funds from the GCC including UAE sovereign-backed Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners, a joint venture between Mubadala Capital and Alpha Wave Global, and Jada Fund of Funds, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).Since its launch, GymNation has delivered on its mission of making fitness more affordable and accessible for the UAE population, and has rapidly grown from a single gym start-up into the UAE’s leading gym operator with 12 gyms and over 60,000 members.Having been voted “The Best Gym in the UAE” on Virgin Radio’s The Kris Fade Show for the last 2 years running, and with over 40,000 five-star Google reviews, GymNation have cemented their position within the UAE as “The People’s Gym” and are now set to replicate this success across the GCC.Loren Holland, Founder & CEO, GymNation commented; “This management buyout is another exciting chapter for GymNation, and with the support and backing of Tricap Investments and Ruya Partners we are perfectly positioned to accelerate the growth of GymNation across the GCC. Within the coming weeks, we will be announcing our first six Saudi Arabian locations, a further four more UAE sites, as well as company formations in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. GymNation has pioneered the democratisation of health and fitness across the UAE, which prior to our launch was recognised as the 2nd most expensive market in the world to own a gym membership. Now it’s time for us to have the same impact across other GCC markets.”The innovative structure of the deal has allowed GymNation to launch a trailblazing Equity Incentivisation Scheme for the wider management team, aimed at attracting and retaining world-class talent, through rewarding, incentivising and aligning, key members of the team with direct equity in the business.Frank Afeaki commented; “On the day of signing the deal, 15 GymNation management team members also signed their own documentation to become shareholders in the business, I am proud that we are able to reward the team in a way that no others within the industry do and have them as shareholders alongside myself, Loren and Ant.”Ant Martland added: “We have an exceptional management team, supported by significant ongoing investments into key technology and systems that are going to place GymNation at the forefront of the fitness industry. It’s still very early days in our growth story, and the whole team couldn’t be more excited, and motivated, to rollout GymNation across the region.”The management team were advised by James Wigglesworth at Orca Capital (Corporate Finance) who will also join the board as a Non-Executive Director at completion, DLA Piper (Legal), Tatsu Partners (Debt Advisory) and PwC (Financial, Tax and Commercial Vendor Due Diligence).

UAE calls for global consensus on AI governance

Dubai: The UAE’s AI minister on Wednesday urged countries to come to a consensus on AI governance sooner than it came to the Paris Agreement, which took years to take shape and come into force.His Excellency Omar Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy & Remote Work Applications, said at the Dubai Assembly for Generative AI that countries need a fresh approach to governing AI.“I think the current global discussion on AI governance is a non-starter. Instead of attempting to govern the technology, we can govern the use cases,” he said.During the assembly – which witnessed over 2000 attendees coming big tech companies and consultancies such as Microsoft, Deloitte, PwC, IBM – Dubai Future Foundation launched the Dubai Generative AI Alliance, a new alliance of tech companies to help Dubai accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies and build one of the world’s most advanced and effective tech-enabled governments.Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of DFF, called on companies and innovators to join the alliance, which will focus on developing innovative technology pilots by leveraging AI, the metaverse and Web3. The Dubai government also launched ‘Dubai AI’, a generative AI-powered digital city concierge. The city-wide digital platform will offer comprehensive information and services, covering health, business, and education, to residents and visitors. It will transform government services, the assembly heard.The assembly also heard how the global banking sector could benefit by as much as USD 400 billion from the boom in generative AI.The global platform heard from experts from international tech corporations and consultancies. PwC said automation in the workplace is imminent, with generative AI likely to be able to execute everyday tasks, such as booking flights and generating reports autonomously, on a large scale within the next 18-20 months.Deloitte's leading digital expert said nuclear fusion, climate action and drug discovery will be some of the main beneficiaries of generative AI, while the industrial and pharmaceutical sectors are among those quickest to adapt to the emerging technology.Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer, said by November, the airline will “empower cabin crew to leverage [generative AI] through delivering training on complex models”.