Conran to net £24m from restaurants stake sale

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The Independent Online

Sir Terence Conran is selling a stake in his restaurants business in a move that will net the veteran designer and restaurateur more than £24m.

Some 40 managers and staff at the restaurants, which include City eateries such as Le Coq d'Argent, Quaglino's and Bibendum, will become shareholders in the restaurants as they are spun out of Sir Terence's private Conran Holdings.

Sir Terence, who is 75 next month, will retain a 51 per cent stake in the business, but is handing over the role of chairman to Des Gunewardena, chief executive of Conran Holdings.

The buyout is being backed by Bank of Scotland, which raises the possibility that the restaurants could be floated in several years' time. Most private equity groups seek an exit from their investments through a flotation or trade sale, within three to five years.

The newly created company also includes Conran Holdings' 25 per cent stake in the AIM-listed Bank Restaurants, which dates to the sale of Sir Terence Conran's Zinc Bar and Grill to Bank Restaurants last year.

Mr Gunewardena, who joined Conran Holdings as finance director 10 years ago, said: "We have a first-class restaurant business with lots of potential for growth. With more of our managers having meaningful financial stakes in the future success of our group, I believe our restaurants can get better and better."

BoS is investing £10m in expanding the business, with six new outlets planned in the next year. Three of these are set to open in Copenhagen, two in Tokyo and one in the refurbished Royal Festival Hall in London.

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