Johnson ditches PizzaExpress deal

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The Independent Online

The bid vehicle led by entrepreneur Luke Johnson dropped its offer for PizzaExpress yesterday – but still made a near £4m profit.

The bid vehicle led by entrepreneur Luke Johnson dropped its offer for PizzaExpress yesterday – but still made a near £4m profit.

Mr Johnson, who fought a lengthy battle for the high street chain he co-founded, cited deteriorating trading and intense competition for the decision, which hands victory to Capricorn Ventures and TDR Capital, the 47 per cent owners of the Nando's Chicken chain.

Capricorn had trumped Mr Johnson's original offer with a £277m bid worth 387p per share. The deal has been recommended by the PizzaExpress board but still needs the support of independent shareholders.

Mr Johnson's bidding group, backed by ABN Amro, has decided to accept the rival offer in respect of his 8.5 per cent stake. It will make £1.2m on the shares, which he bought at 367p, plus a £2.6m break-fee.

A statement issued by Mr Johnson's bid vehicle, Venice Bidder, referred to the disappointing trading statement issued by PizzaExpress last month. "Against this trading background and after careful consideration, the board of Venice Bidder has decided against increasing its 367p offer, which has now lapsed," it said.

The rival bid vehicle, called GondolaExpress, had said earlier it had received acceptances from shareholders owning 17.1 per cent of PizzaExpress stock. The shares closed 0.5p lower at 388.5p.

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