• Bidding war for PizzaExpress finally begins

LONDON -- After weeks of speculation that a bidding war over PizzaExpress was imminent, the battle has begun.

According to the Scottsman, a takeover consortium made up of Capricorn Ventures (owner of 400 Nando restaurants) and private equity partner TDR, topped a bid by a takeover group headed by former Pizza Express chairman Luke Johnson, with a £277.8 million (U.S. $435 million) offer.

Johnson's group previously offered £263 million (U.S. $412.2 million).

But within minutes after PizzaExpress' board accepted the offer, Johnson's team, operating collectively as Venice Bidder and backed ABM Amro, said it is considering an even higher offer.

The bid battle pushed shares up 3 percent on the day to 389.5 pence (U.S. $6.10).

"We feel we can work closely with the company in the private arena to bring a fresh approach to a number of the difficult issues it is facing," said Robbie Enthoven of Capricorn, when asked about how it could help PizzaExpress emerge from its sales slide.

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