Shares in bars group Yates soared 17% today on news that it is in talks with a venture capital group that could result in it going back into private hands through a management buy-out (MBO).
The management team, led by chief executive Mark Jones, is understood to be keen to take the company out of public ownership through an MBO as it would give them more financial leeway to turn the business around.
At its last financial update, the company reported a 2.6% uplift in sales in the 10 weeks to 14 March, the result of a complete refurbishment of almost all of its bars.
But in the 50 weeks to the same date it was a bleaker story, with group like-for-like sales down by 2.8% and sales at Yates Wine Lodges down by 3.9%, although the newer-format 21st Century Yates bars and Ha!Ha! brand both did better.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Yates said it had been approached by GI Partners, a firm better known for its investments in the technology and data industry.
Discussions were taking place that might, or might not, lead to a recommended offer being made for the company.
In a separate announcement, California-based GI confirmed the talks were at an "advanced" stage and that, if a deal was agreed, the intention was to take the firm back into private hands through a management buy-out. Yates has appointed a committee of independent directors to oversee the process.
Yates is due to announce its full-year results next Wednesday, at which it is expected to outline more details about the talks and any possible bid.
by Nic Paton
Buy this week's Caterer magazine for more industry news and analysis