CHANHASSEN, MN—Life Time Fitness, a gym operator with 112 fitness centers located across the country, is considering converting these properties into a REIT. As the company made the announcement, it noted that a conversion would provide substantial benefits to its shareholders.
In what is perhaps becoming a sign of the times for REITs, Life Time said that the shareholder rights plan it expected to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission would protect “against coercive or abusive takeover tactics and helps ensure that Life Time’s shareholders are not deprived of the opportunity to realize the full and fair value of their investment. Other than that nod to the recent events at certain REITs, Life Time gave little indication of when, how much or even if it planned to follow through.
Wells Fargo Securities and Guggenheim Securities are serving as the company’s financial advisors. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Faegre Baker Daniels LLP are its legal advisors.
Life Time is the latest, but hardly the last, company with a real estate footprint to take advantage of the REIT structure. Ever since the Internal Revenue Service blessed CBS’ proposal to convert its outdoor advertising subsidiary, CBS Outdoor Americas, into a REIT earlier this year other companies have followed suit with one unorthodox proposal after another.
CBS Outdoor Americas wound up raising $644 million in its initial public offering this spring.
While the business case for a REIT spinoff makes sense – it is a better tax structure, separating out certain assets usually results in better management, economies of scale and improved yield – research from SNL Financial suggests that, at least in the short-term, shareholders don’t come out ahead.
There have been five REIT spinoffs since the start of 2013, for an aggregate current market cap of more than $8.81 billion, the company recently reported. However, only one of those spinoff companies has outperformed its parent company since completion, and none have outperformed the broader REIT market, SNL concluded.