Bidders mull options on struggling restaurants group

Bella Italia

American hedge fund Elliott Advisers is among a clutch of potential bidders for restaurants operator Casual Dining Group (CDG).

Sky News is reporting that the aggressive hedge fund, which owns bookshop chain Waterstones, is keen to buy the chain which includes the Café Rouge and Las Iguanas brands.

Casual Dining Group, which also includes Bella Italia, entered administration last week, axing 1,900 of its 6,000-strong workforce and closing nine venues across the North West.

Sky claims Elliott has made an offer for the entire CDG group, while other funds want to break it up into individual parts.

AlixPartners was appointed last Thursday to run an insolvency process at CDG.

Reports claim that CDG’s chains are being considered by special situations funds such as Aurelius Equity Opportunities, while Endless, another turnaround firm, has submitted an offer for Las Iguanas, in competition with Trispan, a private equity firm which is an investor in Rosa’s Thai Café.

AlixPartners and Elliott have declined to comment.

When CDG made its announcement last week, group chief executive, James Spragg, said: “After reviewing all our options with advisers, it became clear that we needed to take this action in order to protect the business and secure the best possible future for Casual Dining Group as we look to conclude a potential sale.”

Administrator, Clare Kennedy, from Alix Partners, said: “We appreciate that this is an extremely difficult time for all those associated with Casual Dining Group.

“Our immediate priorities are to assist those whose employment has been affected by today’s announcement and to secure a sale for the group in order to protect jobs and provide the group’s much-loved brands with a sustainable platform for the future.”

Administrators announced that 91 of CDG’s 250 sites would close immediately.

The North West sites that closed are: Bella Italia: Blackpool Church, Crewe, Didsbury, Manchester Deansgate, Manchester Piccadilly, New Brighton. Café Rouge: Chester, Trafford Centre. Las Iguanas: Chester.