SJ Berwin acts on Wagamama sale

The owners of noodle bar group Wagamama have turned to regular adviser SJ Berwin on the planned sale of the chain, decided yesterday (17 October).

SJ Berwin will advise longstanding client Lion Capital, which bought Wagamama in 2005 from Graphite Capital Management, on the sale.

Plans for a £200m flotation were scrapped when Lion received expressions of interest over Wagamama from other private equity houses.

Head of corporate finance Steven Davis is leading the team at SJ Berwin alongside corporate finance partner Delphine Currie.

SJ Berwin’s relationship with Lion dates back to 2005, when Weil Gotshal & Manges client Hicks Muse Tate & Furst separated its European arm from its US business, creating Lion. Because Weil Gotshal advised the Texan arm of Hicks Muse on the split, it was then forced to concede its monopoly advising the European arm. Weil Gotshal’s London managing partner Mike Francies is still instructed by Lion, however.

SJ Berwin advised Lion on the £102.5m acquisition of Wagamama in 2005, opposite Travers Smith for Graphite. Travers originally advised Graphite back in 1998 when it first invested in the restaurant chain.

Travers also has a role on this deal, advising the shareholders. Private equity partner Andrew Roberts is leading. Corporate finance partner Richard Skelton was advising Numis, the sponsor of the planned IPO, before it was shelved.

All other advice to the management is provided by Faegre & Benson.