Chinese ready meal business to list on stock market

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The Independent Online

Yang Sing, the renowned family-run Chinese restaurant in Manchester, is to take its award-winning food to the masses by selling its ready meals division.

Readybuy, a cash shell, yesterday said it planned to buy McDonald Yang for £1.7m in shares. This is a division of Yang Sing set up by the Yeung brothers, whose father founded the restaurant in 1977, to turn their dishes into chilled ready meals for sale in supermarkets.

The deal will see the enlarged company float on the Alternative Investment Market before the end of the year. Readybuy will pay Gerry and Harry Yeung, who now run the Yang Sing restaurant, 3.6 million shares, worth about £1.7m, in exchange for the business. Gerry and Harry will also have a 20 per cent share in the new Readybuy, which is expected to have a market capitalisation of £8.6m when it floats later this year.

"The Yang Sing in Manchester is possibly the finest Chinese restaurant in the North-west and renowned for the quality of its food. Soon people across the UK will be able to enjoy the delights of some of the Yang Sing's excellent recipes in the comfort of their own homes," said Colin Davies, chairman of Readybuy and a regular diner at Yang Sing.

The Yeung brothers set up McDonald Yang in 1999 but it has incurred significant losses. It now has five products ready to hit supermarket shelves. Readybuy will initially produce Yang Sing branded goods but intends to expand to supply own-branded Chinese ready meals for supermarkets. Gerry Yeung, 49, will become a non-executive director in the new Readybuy business, and Harry, executive chairman and chef at Yang Sing, will provide the cuisine expertise. Readybuy, which has privately raised £950,000 in funding, plans to place 455,000 shares at 48p each to raise a further £219,000.

The restaurant, however, is to stay under the family's control. Tim Kwan Yeung was a well-known dim sum chef when he arrived in Manchester from Hong Kong in 1968. By the late 1970s he had his whole family, including Gerry and Harry, working to get his own restaurant, Yang Sing, off the ground. It has been in the same premises in Princess Street, Manchester, for almost 20 years, despite a devastating fire that gutted the former Victorian textile warehouse in 1997. "The best restaurants are privately owned," said Gerry Yeung.