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TDR denies separate sale of PizzaExpress is on the cards

15 February 2005 by

The owner of PizzaExpress has played down speculation that the company is considering an imminent sale or flotation of the business separately from its other pizza group, Ask Central.

Private equity firm TDR Capital bought PizzaExpress for £278m in June 2003, and acquired Ask last year for £213m. It co-owns both businesses with Capricorn Ventures International, which also owns Nando's.

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PizzaExpress: to be separated from Ask?
Both the *Sunday Telegraph* and the *Scotsman* newspapers reported over the weekend that TDR Capital was seeking to appoint bankers to advise on the flotation or sale of PizzaExpress. While both suggested that these options could include the sale or flotation of Ask Central, they concluded that TDR was more likely to exit from PizzaExpress separately. TDR Capital said in a statement: "We are extremely pleased with our investments in PizzaExpress and Ask Central, but naturally we would never comment on the timing or nature of a possible exit." A spokesman for TDR pointed out that, while the two businesses were run separately, they both shared many back-office functions to drive down costs. Therefore, he said, it would be very difficult to separate the two for disposal. He also suggested it was unlikely that TDR would seek to sell just two years after buying a company. "They will sell them one way or another, but it would be unlikely for the two to be exited separately," he said. The spokesman said that together the two pizza restaurant companies comprised the UK's largest-casual dining group, with more than 500 Pizza Express, Ask and Zizzi outlets. According to TDR, PizzaExpress is trading very strongly and achieved double-digit growth in like-for-like sales over Christmas and into the New Year. by Angela Frewin  Buy this week's *Caterer* magazine for more industry news and analysis
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