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  • Nando's not involved in bid for PizzaExpress

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- According to executives from restaurant company Nando's Group Holdings, it is not involved in a bid being made by one of its major shareholders, Capricorn Ventures International, for London-based PizzaExpress.

As reported in Business Day South Africa, Nando's financial director Les Perlman said the first he knew of Capricorn Ventures' involvement in the PizzaExpress bid was when he saw it reported in newspapers this week. Robert Fihrer of Capricorn Ventures said the bid, which is being led by Sun Capital, was not related to Nando's.

Nando's shareholders, however, may be a little confused as Nando's management announced three months ago it was considering a buyout of PizzaExpress.

This week's news of the bid for PizzaExpress could be viewed as part of a plan by Capricorn Ventures to merge Nando's fast-growing UK operations with the non-pizza businesses of PizzaExpress (specifically its Cafe Pasta chain), with hopes of eventually listing Nando's UK as a separate entity.

Nando's Group Holdings owns only 36 percent indirectly of Nando's UK, and Capricorn Ventures and management owns the rest.

On Nov. 1, PizzaExpress received an official bid (See "Bargain-hunting investor group bids low for PizzaExpress") from an investment consortium dubbed Twigway. That group includes Hugh Osmond, PizzaExpress' former owner.

To date, the bid has not been accepted. UK restaurant stock watchers have declared it at least 25 percent below PizzaExpress' market value.

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