London, December 15, 2006: The Blackstone Group is pleased to announce that it has acquired Tragus Limited (“Tragus”) from Legal and General Ventures (“LGV”) for approximately £267 million. Blackstone is backing the existing Tragus management team, led by CEO Graham Turner, who will be significant investors in the company alongside Blackstone.
Tragus is one of the leading casual dining restaurant operators in the UK with over 160 sites. Its core brands are Café Rouge with 88 sites and Bella Italia with 67 sites. Over the last two years, under LGV ownership, Tragus’ core brands have performed extremely well as Bella Italia has developed its offering and Café Rouge has continued its strong like for like growth and restaurant acquisition plans.
Blackstone and management believe the UK casual dining sector is in its early stages of growth as UK consumers’ propensity to eat outside of the home is increasing, and high quality, consistent casual dining formats are under-penetrated in the market. Blackstone will support Tragus in its existing growth plan and expects to help Tragus become one of the largest restaurant groups in the UK.
Graham Turner, Chief Executive Officer of Tragus commented: “Our core brands Café Rouge and Bella Italia go from strength to strength. We see significant opportunity to rapidly expand our business which will be facilitated with the support of Blackstone.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Joseph Baratta, Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group said: “We see in Tragus a very high quality business with excellent management that has unique brands in a growing market. We will support Tragus management in developing the business and in reinforcing its position as a leader in the market. Tragus is the ideal platform in the UK casual dining sector.”
Debt financing for the transaction was provided by Barclays Capital. Blackstone was advised by UBS Investment Bank and legal representation was provided by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and DLA Piper.
About the Blackstone Group
The Blackstone Group, a global private investment and advisory firm, was founded in 1985. The firm has raised a total of more than $67 billion for alternative asset investing since its formation of which approximately $30 billion has been for private equity investing. The Private Equity Group is currently investing its fifth general private equity fund with commitments of $15.6 billion, and has over 60 experienced professionals with broad sector expertise. Blackstone’s other core businesses include Private Real Estate Investing, Corporate Debt Investing, Hedge Funds, Mutual Fund Management, Private Placement, Marketable Alternative Asset Management, and Investment Banking Advisory Services. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com.