Chicago Rock Cafe chain in line for pre-Christmas sale

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The Independent Online

The future of 3D Entertainment, the owner of the Chicago Rock Cafe chain of bars, could be decided as soon as this week. The corporate finance arm of Zolfo Cooper, the restructuring specialist, has been conducting a sale of the group – which has about 55 Chicago Rock Cafes and 15 others sites, including its Jumpin Jaks and Mortimers pubs – and a deal is expected before Christmas.

Speculation has linked Novus Leisure, the bar operator, and the private equity firms R Capital and Sun Capital to an acquisition but it is unclear if these parties are still in the running. However, 3D Entertainment is also thought to be considering a refinancing and the less palatable option of administration. Chicago Rock Cafe, which offers food during the day and a party scene in the evening, is thought to have found the going tough during the recession, as have other night club operators. Zolfo Cooper is also well known for its insolvency work, particularly in the retail sector.

David Crabtree, the chief executive of 3D Entertainment, said: "It is not a question of the business being in trouble, it is simply a question of getting into the right shape for the future. We are in a process with Zolfo Cooper. We will either end up refinancing or doing an outright sale. It has been going on for a couple of months." Mr Crabtree declined to comment on the possibility of administration.

3D Entertainment's largest shareholder is Luminar, Britain's biggest nightclub operator, with 49 per cent. The management team, including Mr Crabtree has 31 per cent, and the property firm Prestbury has 20 per cent. Zolfo Cooper declined to comment.