• Bidder calls for update of PizzaExpress sales performance

LONDON -- A bidder for 311-store PizzaExpress is pressuring the company's directors for updated information about the chain's performance as a possible bidding war develops.

According to Ananova, the consortium involving former PizzaExpress chairman Luke Johnson and chief executive Ian Eldridge said an update would benefit shareholders.

Johnson's group, which is backed by Venice Bidder, has offered £263 million (U.S. $414.6 million), but ongoing reports claim it could yet be topped by Capricorn Ventures -- owner of Nando's restaurants -- and its private-equity partner TDR.

According to Dow-Jones Newswires, the much-anticipated offer should happen later this week.

Recent press reports have suggested that TDR's offer would be in the neighborhood of £276 million (U.S. $432.2 million).

PizzaExpress has not provided a sales update since the end of February, when it reported profits were off 18 percent for the month.

It is not due to provide another update until the week of April 14, the same week as the deadline for any rival bid to Johnson's and 10 days before PizzaExpress shareholders have to accept that bid.

In a statement, Venice Bidder indicated that an early trading statement would be a key development in the bid process. "Pizza Express shareholders would benefit from clarification as to both the company's current trading and prospects and, in light of this position, the intentions of TDR/Capricorn."

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