Two high-profile restaurant chains, the Spanish brand La Tasca and Argentinian-themed steak house Gaucho are on the verge of being bought amid a wave of consolidation in the sector.
The Café Rouge and Bella Italia owner, Casual Dining Group, is expected to agree a £26m deal to acquire La Tasca, the Telegraph reported – less than a month after the group swooped for the Latin American dining chain Las Iguanas in an £85m deal with the private equity firm Bowmark Capital.
Casual Dining Group has outmuscled rival Prezzo in the battle to acquire La Tasca from German bank Commerzbank and Icelandic lender Kaupthing. The duo took control of La Tasca in a debt-for-equity swap with entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz in 2013.
The acquisition spree is the latest chapter in Casual Dining Group’s eventful history. The US debt fund Apollo took control of Café Rouge and Bella Italia last year as the group, under its previous incarnation as Tragus, was forced to sell the Italian chain Strada in a company voluntary arrangement.
The painful process allowed the group, led by former Tiger Tiger nightclub chief executive Steve Richards, to cut its debts by £263m. The recent spree has fuelled speculation that Apollo is building up the restaurant specialist for a potential flotation to cash in on its investment.
Separately, the Dutch businessman Zeev Godik, the majority owner of Gaucho Grill, has put the chain up for sale after abandoning plans for a stock market listing. He has hired Canaccord Genuity to help him and his private equity backer, ICG, sell for up to £150m, The Sunday Times reported. Mr Godik led a management buyout from Phoenix Equity Partners eight years ago.