Hilton Hotels Corporation has appointed advisers to sell its LivingWell health and fitness chain in a move that could raise more than £100m.
A successful sale is likely to increase the pressure on Whitbread to sell-off its own health and fitness brand, the much larger David Lloyd Leisure business.
The decision to sell by HHC follows the marketing of the London and Birmingham Metropoles that are expected to net over £400m.
HHC needs to act fast on its disposals to regain investment grade status on its debt. The £3.3bn acquisition of Hilton International has left it overleveraged and it is targeting a debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.5 times.
The tipped buyer of LivingWell is LA Fitness, which has Stuart Broster, a former managing director of LivingWell, as its chief operating officer.
A number of unsolicited approaches are understood to have been made about the LivingWell chain, which comprises 28 standalone clubs, 25 in the UK and three in Australia. This has prompted HHC to act quickly.
Not included in the sale are the 76 outlets that are based in Hilton's hotels. These are likely to be franchised from the eventual buyer.
Meanwhile, Whitbread, which has repeatedly said its David Lloyd Leisure business is not for sale, is likely to see a stepping-up of approaches from would-be buyers and of increased pressure from some of its own investors to strike a deal.