Former Owner Bakes Late Bid For PizzaExpress
A former owner of PizzaExpress has launched a secret bid to buy back the restaurant chain amid continuing takeover interest from China.
Sky News has learnt that TDR Capital was one of roughly a handful of parties which this week tabled offers to buy PizzaExpress, which it owned a stake in between 2003 and 2007.
News of TDR's interest comes as the auction of PizzaExpress, which is the largest subsidiary of Gondola, enters its closing stages.
Cinven, the buyout firm which took the chain private in 2007, has been seeking bids of at least £1bn.
Sources close to the auction said that some of the offers submitted this week had valued PizzaExpress at closer to £850m.
It is unclear whether Cinven will press ahead with a sale if it does not receive a bid that meets its asking price.
Sky News revealed last month that Hony Capital, a Chinese investment firm which manages roughly $7bn (£4.1bn) on behalf of clients, has approached a number of UK and US-based buyout funds about the possibility of tabling a joint offer for PizzaExpress.
Sources said that Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate which owns a stake in Club Mediterranee, the French holiday company, and Citic Capital Partners, another major Beijing-based fund, were also watching the PizzaExpress auction, although it was unclear whether either had lodged a formal offer.
Several UK funds including Advent International and TPG considered making offers but decided against doing so.
A PizzaExpress spokesman declined to comment.