ABN AMRO to invest in UK TGI Fridays

The Dutch firm’s acquisition of the chain’s British division is the latest in a string of restaurants picked up by the private equity industry.

ABN AMRO Capital, the private equity arm of Dutch bank ABN AMRO, has agreed to acquire 45 TGI Friday’s restaurants in the UK from Whitbread, a British hospitality company, for about $138 million (€107 million). Also taking part in the deal is Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, an American hospitality and travel company that is also the parent company of TGI Friday’s.

ABN AMRO will have a 60 percent ownership stake in the company, and Carlson Restaurants will own the remainder, Richard Snead, the president and chief executive officer of Carlson Restaurants said in a statement.

The deal is expected to close in March.

Based in Carrollton, Texas, Carlson Restaurants owns and operates nearly 1,000 restaurants in 58 countries. Its other restaurant brands include Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill, Friday’s American Bar and Pick UP Stix. TGI Friday’s opened its first UK restaurant in Birmingham in 1986. This deal has made the UK the largest international market in which Carlson Restaurants operates, the statement said.

ABN AMRO Capital focuses on buyouts and buy-ins of European companies valued between €30 million and €500 million. It operates in the Netherlands, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Australia and has approximately €2.8 billion ($3.6 billion) in capital under management. The firm bought Societa Gasdotti Italia, an Italian gas company, for approximately €300 million from Italian private equity firm Clessidra Capital Partners earlier this month.

A number of private equity firms have invested in the restaurant industry recently. Washington, D.C.-based ACON Investments bought Peter Piper, a US pizza restaurant chain, for an undisclosed amount last week. Washington-based middle market finance provider Allied Capital committed approximately $124 million to buy Huddle House, a franchise of full-service, family dining restaurants, in December. New York- and London-based MidOcean Partners agreed to buy New York state-based quick service Italian restaurant chain Sbarro for about $450 million in November.