Virus Bankrupts a Fitness Chain, Handing Victory to Ex-NBA MVP

A fitness chain in British Columbia that carried the name of Steve Nash fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, and its bankruptcy has given the basketball star a victory he has wanted for years.

SNFW Fitness B.C. Ltd., which operated about two dozen Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club locations in the province, filed forcreditor protection after Covid-19 forced it to close its doors and cut staff to six from 1,300.

A group of investors received court approval in July to purchase the assets and is in the process of reopening. But the new company won’t get the right to use the Nash name — which the Hall of Fame point guard tried, and failed, to have removed from the business starting in 2016.

Nash, who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, played 18 seasons with the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers and was the league’smost valuable player in 2005 and 2006. The Canadian icon helped establish the company that became SNFW in 2007 with Leonard Schlemm and Mark Mastrov, co-founders of 24 Hour Fitness. Mastrov is also part of the ownership group of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Nash hasn’t been involved with SNFW as a shareholder or director since 2014. He launched a legal challenge four years ago to force the company to stop using his name in its gyms, but a court ruled the licensing agreement was valid.

The reopened locations will be called simply Fitness World. “We are in the process of reopening 15 locations with rebranding, club enhancements and upgraded equipment,” Chris Smith, chief executive officer of the new company, FW Fitness BC Ltd., said in an email.

Smith was also CEO of the bankrupt company. He and Mastrov are listed as directors of FW Fitness. Nash didn’t respond to requests for comment made by Bloomberg to his representatives.

SNFW listed liabilities of C$53.4 million ($40.4 million) and assets of zero, according to astatement of affairs posted on the website of the Bowra Group, the trustee in the matter.

FW Fitness agreed to purchase SNFW’s assets for C$9 million, a deal that will result in a shortfall to SNFW’s primary secured creditor, Bank of Montreal, of more than C$25 million, according to the documents.

— With assistance by Allison McNeely

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