ITALIAN restaurant chain Carluccio’s has agreed to a £90.3 million (€109.7m) takeover by Middle Eastern retail giant Landmark Group.
Dubai-headquartered Landmark has offered 142p a share in cash for Carluccio’s, which has 47 restaurants and food shops in the UK.
Carluccio’s – founded by celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio and his wife Priscilla in 1991 – said the deal “represents an attractive premium, in cash, at a time of macro-economic uncertainty”.
Landmark – which recently upped its stake in Carluccio’s to more than 5% – already holds the franchise for Carluccio’s Middle Eastern operations and has opened three restaurants in Dubai, with another in the pipeline.
Shares in Carluccio’s leapt 44% on news of the recommended offer.
Mukesh Jagtiani, the billionaire owner and chairman of Landmark, said Carluccio’s was a “strong business and brand”.
He added: “We are encouraged by Carluccio’s resilient performance during a turbulent economic period and are confident that Carluccio’s should benefit from more favourable macro trends in the future.”
Carluccio’s grew profits by 8% to £2.7m (€3.24m) in the six months to March 28 as its affordable dining appealed to consumers.
But Carluccio’s recently raised concerns over its outlook, warning on releasing interim results in May that government austerity measures had cast a shadow over trading prospects.
The group has long been the centre of takeover speculation, with mooted suitors being private equity and Richard Caring – the owner of top London restaurants, including celebrity haunt The Ivy.
David Bernstein, Carluccio’s senior independent director, said the takeover “represents an excellent opportunity for all those involved”.
“For our employees, it represents the opportunity to benefit from belonging to an international organisation of enlarged scale and breadth. Our customers will, however, see no change in our focus on quality, value, authenticity and the highest standards of service.”
Carluccio’s launched with the aim of offering quality, authentic Italian food at reasonable prices – its average spend is around £13 (€15.61) per customer.
Its founder has been a regular face on television cookery programmes, but is no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the restaurant business.
Carluccio’s said staff, including store managers, held around 8% of the business through share options.
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