Private equity’s restaurant feast continues

What do Byron, Cote, Hawksmoor, Giraffe and Coq d’Argent have in common? They’re among the latest eateries to jump on the restaurant buyout gravy train.

In fact, there has been a veritable feast of buyouts since March this year, when Giraffe kicked off proceedings with its £48.6m sale to supermarket behemoth Tesco. Ashurst and Pinsent Masons won the lead roles for the supermarket and the shareholders respectively.

Shortly after, it emerged that private equity house LDC paid £50m for the pleasure of gobbling up swanky restaurant group D&D – owner of 30 swanky eateries worldwide, including the City’s Coq d’Argent (we hear it does a spectacular lemon tart).

Bovine heaven Hawksmoor was swallowed by Graphite Capital for £35m in July, while private equity group CBPE Capital nibbled on French-style brasserie Cote as it took a 51 per cent stake in the chain. Reed Smith took the order from CBPE for the acquisition, with Olswang at the table for Cote and DLA Piper advising the banks.

George Osborne’s favourite posh burger chain Byron is the latest to go under the knife, following its sale to Hutton Collins Partners for £100m. Travers Smith scooped a role for Byron’s management, while Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer got its teeth into instructions from the chain’s previous owner, the Gondola Group – also owners of PizzaExpress and Zizzi. Dickson Minto advised Hutton Collins.

As one commenter said of Cote’s sale to CBPE: “This is very worrying. Sale to PE makes one fear that the good value element will be ditched, quality sacrificed, or both.”

Let’s hope that Byron’s buyout doesn’t take the bite out of its burgers – or it could be down to McDonalds for Mr Osborne after all.


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