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Aramark chief executive to lead management buy-out of the contract caterer

02 May 2006

Aramark chief executive Joseph Neubauer is leading a $5.8b (£3.2b) buy-out of the American caterer.

Neubauer, with the financial backing of banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, will offer shareholders $32 (£17.50) per share - a 14% premium on Friday's figure at the close of play.

The board of directors has formed a committee of independent directors to consider the proposal.

In a statement, Aramark said: "The board has just received the proposal and no decisions have been made by the board with respect to the company's response to the proposal."

It would not be the first time Neubauer took the company private. A year after becoming chief executive in 1983 he led a management buy-out before taking the company public again in 2001.

Panmure Gordon analyst Mike Murphy said the move may be due to the fact that Neubauer thought the company was undervalued by the stock market.

"Contract catering is still an attractive long-term option. They are low-capital cash-generative businesses and the buyers may see the potential for longer-term growth as opposed to the shorter-term approach of the stock market," he said.

Aramark UK refused to comment on the implications of such a move for the UK group.

By Tom Bill

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