• PPM Ventures expected to bid for PizzaExpress

LONDON -- According to a report in the Sunday Times, anonymous sources say Prudential's private equity arm PPM Ventures will launch a counter bid for PizzaExpress PLC.

The newspaper said that PPM will back a management buyout led by David Page, PizzaExpress' current chairman.

Hugh Osmond, who co-founded the chain some three decades ago, is trying to buy it for £3.50 a share (U.S. $5.57), valuing the company at up to £250 million (U.S. $397 million). At least one UK restaurant stock analyst values the chain at £415 per share (U.S. $6.60) (See "Bargain-hunting investor group bids low for PizzaExpress.")

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