Apollo Global to buy Chuck E Cheese restaurant chain owner

Target: CEC Entertainment Inc

Price: $948 million

Sponsor: Apollo Global Management LLC

Seller: Investment firms

Financial advisor: Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, UBS

Legal counsel: Wachtell Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

The fund controlled by billionaire Leon Black will pay $54 per share for CEC, a premium of 11.5 percent to the stock’s Jan 15 closing price.

CEC shares were trading at $54.20 before the bell on Jan 16, suggesting some investors expect a higher offer. The stock has risen 12 percent since Jan. 7 when first reports of a possible deal emerged.

Including debt, the deal is valued at $1.30 billion, the companies said. 

Chuck E Cheese restaurants, hugely popular with kids, feature video games, bumper cars and play areas and offer food such as pizzas and sandwiches.

CEC was founded in 1977 by Nolan Bushnell, the founder of pioneering video game company Atari and one of the first bosses of Apple Inc founder Steve Jobs.

Apollo’s offer for CEC comes on the heels of the investment firm’s sale of CKE, the restaurant group that owns burger chains Carl’s Jr and Hardees, to Roark Capital Group in November for about $1.70 billion. 

Apollo owns accessory and jewelry maker Claire’s Inc, which it filed to take public in 2013. It also holds large stakes in cruise operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd and casino company Caesars Entertainment Corp.

CEC, which is mostly owned by investment firms, has until Jan. 29 to seek better offers.

Separately, CEC adopted a poison pill with a 10 percent trigger but said this would not prevent it from scouting for a superior offer under the terms of the deal with Apollo.

The Irving, Texas-based company reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit in October, hurt by a 2.1 percent drop in same-restaurant sales. 

Reuters reported last week that CEC was working with Goldman Sachs Inc, exploring a potential sale to private equity. 

Goldman Sachs is advising CEC, while Apollo’s financial advisers are Deutsche Bank Securities, Morgan Stanley and UBS Securities.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP are CEC’s legal advisers, while Wachtell Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP are advising Apollo.

Siddarth Cavale and Chris Peters are reporters for Reuters News in Bangalore