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CVC AND BRIDGEPOINT DRINK TO PARISA EXIT

CVC Capital and Bridgepoint Capital have sold the Parisa Cafe Bars division of the Parisa Group to branded pub operator, SFI Group. The maximum value of the transaction is GBP15 million. Of this, GBP8 million is payable in cash on completion and GBP7 million is payable, in cash or SFI shares, over the next two years. The investors acquired Parisa, previously Greenalls Cellars, in a GBP56 million MBO, led by CEO Nader Haghighi, four years ago. CVC and Bridgepoint retain the rest of the Parisa Group, which is a business mainly comprised of off-licences.

Parisa Cafe Bars, a chain of high street bars serving food and drinks but also selling wine to take home, was not part of the 1997 buyout and has been developed since then. The first site opened in September 1998 and the chain now comprises 24 trading venues and four sites for development, with assets worth GBP11.3 million. In the year to September, Parisa Cafe Bars generated sales of GBP18.2 million.

Haghighi left Parisa earlier this year and was replaced by David Simons, former chief executive of Somerfield, who will continue to run the company as a cash business. Haghighi was reported to be putting together a bid, supported by Royal Bank Private Equity, for the Parisa Cafe Bars chain. CVC and Bridgepoint were approached by SFI about the cafe bar business and are not currently seeking to exit the main Parisa investment.

The SFI Group, previously Surrey Free Inns, operates branded pubs such as The Litten Tree, Bar Med, and The Slug and Lettuce chains. The Parisa bars will be converted into these core brands, mainly Slug and Lettuce outlets. The acquisition, the funding of which was arranged and underwritten by Barclays Capital, will enable the group to increase the number of Slug and Lettuce venues to 190 by the end of this financial year. SFI acquired The Slug and Lettuce group, a chain of contemporary bars, last summer. Other acquisitions last year included ten outlets bought from Capital Bars and Greene King.