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Scoop: Unleashed Brands interviews banks for sale process

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Branding platform Unleashed Brands is in talks to seek a buyer, founder and CEO Michael Browning tells Axios.

Details: The company is interviewing investment banks and is seeking a deal with a consumer-focused private equity firm or a strategic, he said.

  • "We anticipate that we will transact privately in 2022," he said.
  • The private company's move to pursue a buyer rather than an IPO is a sign of times as the markets continue to whipsaw.
  • Unleashed's owners include Browning, Mantucket Capital and MPK Partners.

Background: Unleashed is the parent of Urban Air Adventure Parks, Snapology, The Little Gym, Premier Martial Arts, Class 101 College Planning and XP League.

By the numbers: This year, Unleashed will generate system-wide sales of approximately $740 million, revenue of about $160 million, and EBITDA of around $70 million, Browning said.

  • Valuation multiples for similar asset-light businesses range between the high teens and low 20s, he said. Unleashed's CAGR is between 20% and 25%, he added.

What's next: Unleashed aims to add more than 235 brick-and-mortar locations in 2022. Currently, it has 800.

  • In addition, it plans to make four acquisitions before the year ends in areas such as art, music, swimming and traditional sports, Browning said.
  • The company owns about 10% of its locations (the rest are franchised) to test new ideas and services: "We eat our own dog food by owning and operating our own locations," Browning said.

The bottom line: "What I love about our business, although it is discretionary, is people still need to invest in their kids so they can be the best they can be," Browning said.

  • There's nothing "more powerful" than a franchisee or local business owner who intimately knows his or her employees and customers, he added.
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