Private-equity group Delek Real Estate buys RoadChef

08 March 2007
Private-equity group Delek Real Estate buys RoadChef

RoadChef, the UK's third-largest motorway services operator, has been sold by its Japanese private-equity owner in a deal valuing the group at £425m.

Nikko Principal Investments, owner of RoadChef since 1998, and partner Vision Capital, a London-based investment firm, have sold the chain to Israeli private-equity group Delek Real Estate.

The price tag of £375m plus debt (taking it to £425m in total) is a handsome return on the £175m Nikko paid for the group, which now has 29 service stations as well as 15 hotels. It employs 2,000 staff.

Vision Capital has been a minority investor in the company - which runs Europe's largest at service station at Clacket Lane on the M25 in Kent - since 2004.

Delek is being coy about its immediate intentions for RoadChef, but City analysts believe it will not rush into making any radical changes to a company that reported sales last year, excluding fuel, of £132m.

Under chief executive Martin Grant, who will be staying at the helm at least for the time being, the company has expanded rapidly, notably through the acquisition of the Blue Boar and Take a Break chains.

Brian Berry, chief executive of Nikko Principal Investments, said he was confident Delek would be good owners of the business. "There is no doubt that RoadChef today is a stronger, higher-quality and better-invested business than it was when we acquired it," he added.

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