Cinven targets sale of restaurant operator Gondola Holdings in early 2014


restaurant_lrgPrivate equity-backed UK restaurant company Gondola Holdings could be sold in early 2014, according to The Guardian.

Cinven is seeking to hire investment bankers to explore potential exit options, having previously been reported to be seeking a sale earlier this year.

Cinven bought Gondola in 2006 in a £1.335bn deal. A potential sale could fetch as much as £1bn.

The company, which owns Pizza Express, Zizzi and Ask, recorded annual sales of £591.7m in its most recent annual report, an increase of 3.9 per cent, though EBITDA fell 5.6 per cent to £108.1m.

At the time Gondola chairman Chris Woodhouse said, “We have delivered a resilient performance, despite the challenging backdrop, as the UK economy remained under pressure.

“More encouraging trading patterns returned during the half year with consumer behaviour becoming more predictable, a good Christmas has led to strong performances from all of our businesses from there into the New Year.”

Earlier this month UK buyout firm Hutton Collins  bought UK dining chain Byron Hamburgers from Gondola in a £100m deal.

UK private equity investors continue to show a growing appetite for restaurant chains in an increasingly buoyant casual dining sector.

Earlier this year Risk Capital Partners made a massive return of more than eight times on its investment in restaurant chain Giraffe, which was sold to Tesco for £48.6m.

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