• PizzaExpress executive directors consider bid for company

LONDON -- PizzaExpress confirmed in a statement it has received approaches about purchases of the 300-store pizza and pasta company, including one from its executive directors.

Amid rumors of new suitors calling on the 37-year-old firm, Dec. 16 trading of PizzaExpress stock helped its price rise 25 percent to 336 pence (U.S. $5.19) per share.

According to an Ananova report, the company's board formed a committee of non-executive directors to consider all potential bids.

The only serious offer received by PizzaExpress came on Nov. 4 from Twigway, an investor consortium led by Hugh Osmond, who took PizzaExpress public in 1993. The £250 million (U.S. $397 million) offer was withdrawn about two weeks later, however, after Twigway demanded an earnest fee (See "Twigway confirms it demanded inducement fee in PizzaExpress bid").

PizzaExpress has battled negative comparable-store sales since London tourist traffic plummeted in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The company has launched a multi-million-pound refurbishment effort it hopes will spur sales at its older stores, most of which are located in Central London.

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