Linklaters advises TDR Capital on PizzaExpress LSE offering

Linklatersis celebrating its first successful instruction from TDR Capital after advising the private equity house on the IPO of restaurant group PizzaExpress.

Meanwhile, Herbert Smith has secured a secondary role on the deal, having been the main adviser to PizzaExpress since the company bought pizza restaurant chain Ask Central last year.

The acquisition was Herbert Smith’s first instruction from the private equity house, which also instructed US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. TDR has also previously instructed Slaughter and May on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis when it first bought PizzaExpress in April 2003.

Herbert Smith and Simpson Thacher won their roles on the Ask deal because of a Slaughters conflict. Slaughters was representing Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DKW), the financial backer of one of the rival bidders for PizzaExpress.

The partial flotation marks PizzaExpress’s return to the stock market following a two-year break. The float gives Gondola, the holding company of PizzaExpress, an estimated market capitalisation of £440m, with shares priced at 320p. Gondola also owns Italian restaurant group Zizi. TDR originally paid £278m for PizzaExpress and, along with joint owner Capricorn Ventures, it will continue to own more than 50 per cent of Gondola.

Linklaters is one of the top firms for flotations on the London Stock Exchange this year. In the first six months of the year, the magic circle firm advised on five of the top 10 IPOs, including advising DKW on the £5bn PartyGaming listing.

Linklaters corporate partner John Lane is leading the team on the Pizza- Express IPO, with Herbert Smith, led by partner James Milne, advising on the corporate restructuring.