Pelican swallows Noodles

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The Independent Online
PELICAN GROUP, the restaurants chain, has doubled in size overnight with the acquisition of Robert Earl's Yankee Noodle company, which runs the Rock Island Diner and three Mamma Amalfi outlets.

Mr Earl, who founded the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood chains, gets pounds 3m and an 11.5 per cent stake in Pelican in return.

Pelican already runs the Cafe Pelican in St Martin's Lane, London, and the Cafe Rouge chain of mid-market restaurants.

Roger Myers, chairman, said he was delighted with the deal because it gave the group a chance to open more outlets and build up the chains.

He added that he was particularly pleased that Mr Earl, whom he described as the world's most astute restaurateur, would be joining the board as a non-executive director.

The group is funding the deal, which is worth pounds 6m in total, through the issue of 12 million shares. Pelican is raising a further pounds 4m through a seven-for-ten open offer at 50p.

Mr Myers said the funds would be used to eliminate pounds 3m of debt and leave the company with an additional pounds 1m for expansion.

Mr Earl has warranted Yankee Noodle's pre-tax profits at pounds 800,000 in the year to 31 March. Mr Myers forecast that Pelican would make pounds 900,000 before tax in the same period.

Pelican shares rose 8p to 58p.