• City Centre to pay $296 million for Ask Central Pizza & Pasta

LONDON—Dow Jones Newswires has reported that City Centre Restaurants will buy Ask Central PLC for £168 million (U.S. $296 million) in cash and shares, creating a 400-unit U.K. restaurant chain.

"It gives us a leading position in a key segment of the catering sector, which is more able to withstand any downturns in consumer spending," City Centre Chief Executive Alan Jackson told DJN.

The combination of Ask Central's 150 pizza and pasta units with City Centre's 250 casual dining units will form a unified company large enough to rank among the FTSE 250.

To date, holders of about 28 percent of Ask's shares have agreed to the deal.

The £1.77-per-share (U.S. $3.11) offer appears fair, according to Greg Feehely, an analyst at Altium Capital, though the report called it on the low end of High Street's expectations.

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